With major free agents Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard signing with the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers respectively, and Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder on the move to the Clippers via trade as well, Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook is now rumored to be on his way out of Oklahoma City too, with the Miami Heat supposedly the favorite to land the 30-year-old, eight-time All Star, as The Inquisitr reported.
But according to a columnist for The Detroit News, that city’s team, the Pistons, must put themselves in the mix to acquire Westbrook as well. In fact, wrote Bob Wojnowski, the Pistons must make an all-out effort to trade for Westbrook, because without adding the superstar, the team is “squandering” the talents of superstar power forward Blake Griffin, not to mention the large chunk of cash they will pay Griffin in the coming season.
Detroit finished at 41-41 in the 2018-2019 season, barely grabbing the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference — only to be swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks, as Basketball Reference recorded.
But they expected better after acquiring Griffin in January of 2018 from the Clippers. Griffin earned a base salary of $31,873,932 in 2018-2019, according to SpoTrac, making the 30-year-old out of the University of Oklahoma the fifth-highest NBA player last season. And Griffin’s salary jumps to $34,234,964 in the upcoming season.
“If the Pistons aren’t going to significantly alter their roster to become better than an eight seed, they’re wasting Griffin, 30, and wasting time,” wrote Wojnowski, who said that adding Westbrook would immediately make the Pistons a top-four team in the “weakened” Eastern Conference.
Westbrook, who will make $38,506,482 in 2019-2020 per SpoTrac, is one of only two players in NBA history to average a triple-double throughout an entire season. And even more remarkably, Westbrook has done it for the last three consecutive seasons. The first, and only other player to average double figures in points, rebounds, and assists was Oscar Robertson with the Cincinnati Royals in 1961-1962. (The Royals are now the Sacramento Kings.)
Westbrook won the NBA MVP Award in 2017, and as proven to be one of the healthiest players in the league, missing a mere 14 games over the last four seasons — though nine of those came last season, according to BR.
According to Wojnowski, the Pistons would need to shed significant salary to acquire Westbrook from Oklahoma City. A trade package would need tp include Reggie Jackson, Langston Galloway, and Tony Snell, which would represent a salary dump of about $36 million — nearly enough to make room for Westbrook’s contract, which was the second-largest in the NBA last season, according to Business Insider.