In a recent article, Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report created a list of trades that every team could make after the first week of this year’s free agency period. These include a blockbuster deal that would enable the Utah Jazz to acquire Russell Westbrook and PJ Tucker from the Houston Rockets. In the proposed scenario, the Jazz would send a package that includes Mike Conley and Royce O’Neale to the Rockets in exchange for Westbrook and Tucker.
If the trade becomes a reality, Swartz believes that it would help both teams address their needs. For the Rockets, instead of keeping a disgruntled superstar on their roster, they would receive another All-Star caliber point guard in Conley — who could be a much better fit with James Harden — and a defensive-minded forward in O’Neale.
“If the Rockets want to move on from Westbrook but still get enough talent back to stay competitive, Conley could be the perfect solution. The 33-year-old point guard is coming off a strong postseason performance (he averaged 19.8 points and 5.2 assists per game while shooting 52.9 percent from three) and may actually be the better fit next to James Harden. His $34.5 million salary expires next summer, which would give the Rockets real cap flexibility for the first time in years. O’Neale is a terrific defensive forward who would help fill the void left by the Robert Covington trade.”
Meanwhile, for the Jazz, trading for Westbrook is arguably a huge gamble. Not only is he a questionable fit alongside Mitchell, but he could also affect the team’s salary cap flexibility in the years to come. However, bringing “The Brodie” to Utah could be worth the risk for the Jazz, especially if they believe that it could boost their chances of winning the NBA championship next season.
If the transaction pushes forward, Westbrook could give the Jazz an upgrade at the point guard position, giving them a slightly younger and more explosive floor general to pair with Mitchell in their backcourt. Westbrook’s arrival would help them boost their performance in terms of scoring, rebounding, playmaking, and defending the perimeter. Last season, he averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, seven assists, and 1.6 steals while shooting 47.2 percent from the field, per ESPN.
It might take time before Westbrook and Mitchell mesh well on the court. However, once they find the perfect chemistry, they could form one of the most explosive backcourt duos in the league in the 2020-21 season.
Tucker wasn’t just included in the deal for salary-matching purposes. He could give the Jazz another veteran presence in their locker room and a defensive-minded big man who is capable of knocking down shots from beyond the arc. Tucker would likely come off the bench in Utah, but they could also use him as their starting center if they want to use a small-ball strategy.