What jersey will Russell Westbrook be wearing at the start of the 2020-21 NBA season? (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire)
- Russell Westbrook ‘wants out’ of Houston according to Shams Charania
- Several NBA teams have been linked with the former MVP – the Knicks are the early betting favorites
- See below for odds and analysis on where the value lies
Russell Westbrook is looking to follow Daryl Morey and Mike D’Antoni out of Houston. The Rockets are a franchise in disarray, with unhappy role players, a new coach, and a substantial front office change. Westbrook, per Shams Charania’s reporting for The Athletic, ‘wants out’.
This, of course, isn’t the first time a co-star has decided they want to get away from James Harden. Westbrook and Harden were desperate to team up last offseason, but a little over a year later, the former MVP has had enough. He wants to go to a team where he can be the main man again.
The table below has the latest odds on Westbrook’s next team, with the New York Knicks favored.
Russell Westbrook’s Next Team If Traded
|Team||Odds To Trade For Russell Westbrook|
|New York Knicks||+275|
Odds taken on November 13.
What Does Westbrook Want?
According to the eye-opening report from The Athletic, Westbrook has been frustrated by the Rockets for some time. He wanted to change the team’s culture and felt there was a lack of accountability. On occasion, he clashed with James Harden. Westbrook wants to, in the words of The Athletic, “join a team where he can have a role similar to his prior, floor-general role in Oklahoma City.”
The Rockets might not be favorites in the 2021 NBA Championship odds, but if Westbrook wants a trade, he is likely taking himself away from contention, and maybe to a lottery team. The table above shows the sort of teams in the mix for Westbrook.
BREAKING: Russell Westbrook has requested a trade from the Houston Rockets, via The Athletic.
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) November 12, 2020
Westbrook is owed $41 million next season, almost $44 million the year after, and has a $46.7 million player option for 2022-23. He’s coming off an injury that delayed his involvement in the NBA bubble and made him pretty much a liability when he was available.
The Knicks Loom
The New York Knicks have exercised rare patience over the last few months. They haven’t played since March, but they were thorough in their head coaching search, eventually settling on Tom Thibodeau. Trading Marcus Morris for a first-round pick was the right move. There are signs that they could be turning things around, but the appointment of Thibodeau means no more tanking, and could push them towards a reckless win-now move.
Making a deal for Westbrook would fall into that category. He doesn’t fit the timeline of the Knicks’ young core of RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson. The subpar shooting of Barrett and non-shooting Robinson are not going to thrive alongside Westbrook. More importantly, the former Thunder guard will not have the space he so desperately needs. His contract would restrict them as they hope to move towards contention in a couple of years.
The Clippers and Knicks are interested in trading for Russell Westbrook, per @KevinOConnorNBA pic.twitter.com/XRpjPx0loK
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 11, 2020
The Knicks are always desperate for a star, though, and they almost have the cap space to absorb Westbrook’s contract. Kevin O’Connor has already reported of the Knicks’ interest, and it seems just the sort of deal they could make this offseason. Westbrook could come in and be the floor-general he wants to be alongside Barrett and Robinson, but the Rockets will want assets for Westbrook, and that’s where the Knicks might back away.
2021 NBA MVP Award Odds Tracker
Watch Out For Orlando
Few teams make much sense for Westbrook. The size of his contract, and the way a team must be built around him, means there are few contenders he fits on. Most will have no interest in trading for him. The Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers need shooters around their current stars – Westbrook would cause spacing problems.
Teams with cap space, unlikely to land free agents, are the ones who might consider a big swing on Westbrook. He’s unlikely to launch them towards the top, but he’s still a massive name, and still a very effective player when healthy and surrounded by the right teammates. The Athletic reported of Charlotte’s interest, but the Orlando Magic look like the best landing spot.
Russell Westbrook responds to the report that he and James Harden don’t want to play with each other anymore:
“This is completely fabricated. Y’all have a good night.” #Rockets pic.twitter.com/ofpvpowaRw
— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) November 13, 2020
Orlando has players that would interest the Rockets. A combination of Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Markelle Fultz, and Terrence Ross can get the salaries to work for a deal. Fournier, Gordon, and Ross would all be very useful alongside Harden. Aminu would give them another frontcourt option. Maybe Houston can take Fultz and build on his development from last season.
The Magic don’t become a contender. They’re probably still no better than an eight seed, but for a franchise stagnating, they could roll the dice on Westbrook this offseason.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Knicks went for Westbrook. This is a different front office, though, making the Magic a better bet.
Pick: Orlando Magic (+300)
Sam Cox is a freelance writer and sports junkie, who has spent the past several years immersed in the online gaming industry. He has worked with 888sport, Oddschecker, and Colossus Bets to name a few. Based in the UK, Sam also runs Franchise Sports with his brother.