According to a recent report on the New York Knicks‘ rumored offseason plans, there’s a possibility the team will make a move for an established top-tier point guard in the lead-up to the draft on November 18, with Russell Westbrook of the Houston Rockets among the players the organization might target.
In a report published Wednesday, October 14, SNY‘s Ian Begley talked about the Knicks’ expected strategy during this year’s rookie draft, which could include trading up for a chance to select Illawarra Hawks guard LaMelo Ball or Memphis Tigers center James Wiseman, both of whom are unlikely to be available if the Knicks hang on to their No. 8 overall pick. He added, however, these plans might change if the team makes a trade for someone such as Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul.
In addition to Paul, Begley cited multiple player agents, writing Westbrook could be a target if the Rockets make him available on the trade market. He added that sources have told him the former NBA MVP considered New York as a “welcome landing spot” when the Thunder were trying to move him in the summer of 2019.
Although Begley suggested Westbrook has the work ethic and determination to help the Knicks’ young players grow, he stressed that any potential deal to acquire him needs to “make sense” for the club.
“If they are going to take on Westbrook’s contract (three years remaining, third year is a player option, $132 million in total), you’d think that the Knicks would look for an additional asset from Houston.”
As pointed out by CBS Sports, the Rockets have yet to show any indication they are planning to ship Westbrook elsewhere during the offseason. However, officials expressed similar sentiments regarding Paul’s future with the organization before he was ultimately traded to the Thunder for Westbrook.
The outlet also noted that owner Tilman Fertitta has reportedly experienced some financial troubles amid the COVID-19 pandemic and has yet to pay the NBA’s luxury tax, which could increase the possibility that his star playmaker might be traded in the coming months.
All in all, CBS Sports opined that acquiring Westbrook — who turns 32 next month and is on what was referred to as “perhaps the worst contract in basketball” — could be a risky move for the Knicks, who have been slowly but steadily rebuilding by constantly adding young players and draft assets.
Since the Rockets were eliminated by the Los Angeles Lakers in this year’s Western Conference semifinals, the Knicks have often popped up as a potential offseason destination for Westbrook. Earlier this week, he was mentioned in a hypothetical three-way deal that would send him to New York, with his current backcourt partner James Harden moving to the Philadelphia 76ers and erstwhile Sixers star Ben Simmons going to Houston.