During the 2019 NBA offseason, the Houston Rockets shocked everyone in the league when they sent a trade package centered on Chris Paul to acquire Russell Westbrook from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Despite initially insisting that they intended to keep Paul for another season, Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey said that the opportunity to pair James Harden with a younger and MVP caliber point guard in Westbrook was too good to pass. However, months after the blockbuster deal with the Thunder, rumors are now circulating that the Rockets may consider trading Westbrook before the 2020 February NBA trade deadline.
In his recent Tales From the Couch podcast, Ryen Russillo of The Ringer talked about Westbrook’s current situation in Space City. Though he’s starting to show good chemistry with Harden, Russillo revealed that there’s no guarantee that Westbrook will finish the 2019-20 NBA season with the Rockets. According to Russillo, Westbrook is currently available on the trading block and Morey would be willing to move him again if the right deal comes along before the 2020 February NBA trade deadline.
“I think Westbrook is available,” Russillo said, as transcribed by Dan Feldman of NBC Sports. “We can talk about semantics Of course, Daryl Morey would trade anyone if he thought it made his team better. Of course, he would trade Westbrook if he could get off of that long-term money, if he thought the assets, the sum of the parts was better than having somebody that’s considered a top-10 player. Is Daryl Morey actively calling people, saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got to dump Westbrook?’ Well, of course, he wouldn’t do it that way. But there are people who believe Westbrook is available and that Daryl knows, ‘I’ve got to figure something out here.'”
Westbrook is currently establishing an impressive performance in his first season as a Rocket. In 27 games he played, the 31-year-old point guard is averaging 24.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 7.1 assists, and 1.5 steals while shooting 42.6 percent from the field and 23.8 percent from beyond the arc. However, despite posting incredible numbers almost every game, Feldman revealed that Westbrook still hasn’t provided the “desired upgrade” the Rockets wanted to see when they traded Paul for him.
Feldman explained that the Rockets have performed better when Harden plays without Westbrook than when both of them are on the court. Also, when Harden needs to rest, Westbrook-led lineups struggle on the floor. After what they did to Paul last summer, it would not be a surprise if the Rockets really decide to part ways with Westbrook during the 2019-20 NBA season. However, if Morey considers engaging in a blockbuster deal involving Westbrook, it would likely be for a player or players that could strengthen their chance of fully dominating the Western Conference and winning the NBA championship title in the 2019-20 NBA season.