Moore: Examining Russell Westbrook’s Trade Fit With All Other 29 NBA Teams
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0).
- The Oklahoma City Thunder shocked the NBA world by trading 2019 MVP candidate Paul George to the Clippers.
- Matt Moore analyzes where Russell Westbrook would fit in with every other team in a potential trade.
The shockwaves of Friday night’s transformational moves that saw Kawhi Leonard sign with the Clippers as LA also traded for Paul George will be felt for months. It’s still surreal in the aftermath and a new NBA World Order has been established.
But the quakes aren’t done (literally, as folks at Vegas Summer League found out) and the next one looks to ripple again through Oklahoma City.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday that the Thunder have begun conversations with Russell Westbrook about a potential trade of the franchise cornerstone:
Oklahoma City All-Star guard Russell Westbrook and his agent, Thad Foucher, are engaged with Thunder general manager Sam Presti about the next steps of Westbrook’s career, including the possibility of a trade before the start of next season, league sources told ESPN.
The two sides have 11 years of history together, and both understand that the time has likely come to explore trade possibilities for Westbrook, league sources said.
So, that’s a thing, and it’s a complicated one. ESPN’s Royce Young (who contributed to Wojnarowski’s report) also said on the Hoop Collective podcast that the team was likely looking at trading Westbrook. The Athletic echoed that as well:
This is going to be tough. Bear in mind that since Kevin Durant left, the Thunder have built their entire existence around Westbrook. OKC’s front office believes that your team takes the shape of your franchise star, and so everything has taken Westbrook’s form through the years.
The Thunder did what you’re supposed to do when you lose a player like Kevin Durant: they buckled down, waited a year, swung for a star, convinced him to stay. And now none of it matters and they’re facing their first real, true rebuild in one of the toughest markets in the league.
Westbrook is owed almost $170 million over the next four years, with his deal expiring at age 34. This for a militantly aggressively, ball-dominant, athleticism-reliant point guard with multiple knee surgeries in his past. It’s a tough sell, but not every franchise gets to be choosers.
So let’s take a look, team by team, whether a trade for Russell Westbrook makes sense for those teams and what a deal might look like.
Nope. Young team, not on Russ’ timeline, not ready to compete around him, and they don’t have matching contracts to begin with. You’d be mortgaging one of the most fun young cores in the league with ultra flexibility just to have Russ. The anti-Travis-Schlenk move.
You’d rather have Kemba Walker at his number than Russ at his number. Walker and the young kids’ timelines are already at odds, this would make even less sense, taking the ball out of Brown and Tatum’s hands without anyone to really run pick-and-roll. Not unless things got really desperate this year.
Nope, just got Kyrie and KD.
This would make a lot of sense for the Hornets, but they don’t really have the assets to pull this off. They have a ton of expiring contracts, but if you’re losing Russell Westbrook and Paul George in a single summer, you don’t want cap space because you’re not signing any stars to play in Oklahoma City anyway.
The Hornets have some young talent but no real potential stars. They have picks, but it would take so many; this might be a move that Michael Jordan goes for, with Westbrook as the main face of Jordan Brand.
It’s dangerous, though. If the Hornets could pawn off the various expiring deals for pieces OKC wants, there might be something there.
The first one that really intrigues me. The Bulls need something to rapidly accelerate, and they hate slow, patient rebuilds.
Sure, they have all this good young talent, but what if they got Westbrook instead? Trying to not pay the luxury tax with a $40-million-plus Westbrook on the roster seems like a very Reinsdorf-family move.
Here’s what they can throw out there.