NBA Rumors: Knicks Could Trade RJ Barrett, Frank Ntilikina & 1st-Round Picks To Rockets For Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook #0 of the Houston Rockets looks on during the second half of the game at TD Garden on February 29, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts.
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With Leon Rose currently serving as the president of basketball operations, the New York Knicks are expected to become more aggressive in upgrading their roster in the 2020 offseason. Instead of slowly rebuilding their team and just focusing on the development of their young players, rumors are circulating that the Knicks will be going after a legitimate superstar who will help them end their playoff drought in the 2020-21 NBA season. One of the players the Knicks could target on the trade market this fall is All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook of the Houston Rockets.

In a recent article, Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report suggested a blockbuster deal that would make sense for both the Knicks and the Rockets. In the proposed trade scenario, New York would be sending a package that includes RJ Barrett, Frank Ntilikina, and the No. 8 and No. 27 picks in the 2020 NBA Draft to Houston in exchange for Westbrook.

Though it wouldn’t give them back another All-Star caliber talent in return, the potential would also be beneficial for the Rockets. Aside from getting rid of Westbrook and his lucrative contract, it would help them replenish their war chest of first-round picks while acquiring two young and promising talents in Barrett and Ntilikina.

“The two first-round selections coming from New York may seem underwhelming, but the Rockets are totally bereft of draft picks. Beggars can’t be choosers. Besides, Barrett is the real prize here. Whether he operates alongside James Harden as a secondary playmaker or takes on a larger role in the event Houston also moves the former MVP, Barrett is still young enough to price in real improvement. This is the No. 3 pick in the 2019 draft we’re talking about. He had a rough rookie year with the Knicks, but who doesn’t struggle in New York? Ntilikina lacks Barrett’s ceiling, but he can defend and is still just 22.”

Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook (R) wears a Los Angeles Lakers jersey in honor of the late Kobe Bryant as he shakes hands with James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets during the first half against the Oklahoma City Thunder of game four of the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 24, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
  Kim Klement / Getty Images

Meanwhile, the successful acquisition of Westbrook would fulfill the Knicks’ dream of adding a legitimate superstar to their roster. The former MVP, alone, may not be enough to turn them into an instant title contender, but he’s definitely capable of helping the Knicks end their playoff drought next season. He would give them a prolific scorer, playmaker, rebounder, and perimeter defender.

This season, the 31-year-old point guard averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 1.6 steals while shooting 47.2 percent from the field, per ESPN. Though he somewhat showed improved chemistry with Harden at the end of the season, most people will agree it would be best for Westbrook to be traded to a team he can call his own. Starting a new journey on a big-market team like the Knicks will enable him to return from being one of the most explosive stars in the league and a frontrunner to win the Most Valuable Player award every year.