5 Teams That Should Trade For Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook isn’t long for the Oklahoma City Thunder. They probably can’t risk him being so, either.
It’s still possible Westbrook shrugs off the recent departure of Kevin Durant, guides the Thunder deep into the NBA playoffs yet again and then next summer signs a massive long-term deal. Yes, that’s possible. And if OKC doesn’t deal him first, it might even be plausible.
However, Westbrook isn’t signing a long-term deal before he becomes a free agent and it’s getting harder to imagine OKC allowing him to get to that point.
On Westbrook’s side, he’d be losing serious coin. For OKC, they’d be risking letting a superstar walk for nothing for the second year in a row.
Oklahoma City wants to keep Westbrook badly, but they can’t be sure that they will and they absolutely can’t risk the possibility of losing him without cost.
Needless to say, the Russell Westbrook trade rumors should dominate the NBA headlines all year and it truly could be a matter of time before he’s ultimately dealt.
— Dime Magazine (@DimeMag) July 5, 2016
But where could Westbrook go? Wherever he goes, it’s at worst for a one-year rental and at best the team will have to hope they can re-sign him for years to come.
Either way, the Thunder should anticipate a massive haul in return, be it of quality talent and/or draft picks as compensation.
So, where could Westbrook go? Let’s take a look at the most logical destinations:
New York Knicks
It is either going to take a team with a ton of assets or a team crazy enough to go for broke to make a Russell Westbrook trade happen. The Knicks are very possibly among the latter.
Phil Jackson wants to win now and if he can see a vision where Westbrook helps make that happen, it might not be too insane to see him put together a package involving Kristaps Porzingis.
Is that a mistake if Westbrook only stays the one year? Absolutely. Is it a bad move if Westbrook signs long-term and helps the Knicks? Probably not.
Jackson would have to ask himself that and make the proposal, and it might even take more than that. It is probably on the table, however, especially for a team trying to win before Carmelo Anthony’s wheels fall off.
The Timberwolves are still in search for a difference-maker at the point. Zach Lavine can fill that role in spurts and Ricky Rubio was viewed as the answer years ago, but neither really are going to get the job done, long-term. Lavine is more of a scoring shooting guard and Rubio can’t shoot.
That could have Minnesota taking a gamble for a legit starting point guard at some point and they have plenty of talent to pull off such a deal. They would be at risk of losing a guy like Westbrook after just one year, but perhaps once he’s around a very talented and young team, he may see it as the ideal place to grow.
The Wolves won’t part with Karl-Anthony Towns, but just about anyone else may be available if they think they can get and re-sign Westbrook.
This might not be the perfect spot if you’re Westbrook, but OKC probably wouldn’t mind taking some of Minnesota’s talent as they attempt to rebuild.
Speaking of assets, Boston may have just as many or more fun pieces to offer in any potential deal and they also would offer Westbrook some things the Wolves currently don’t: a rich history and a real shot at competing at a high level.
Boston already has a great coach and system in place, in addition to a ton of terrific young talent. Guys like Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart and Jae Crowder could be included in deals, not to mention future picks and some nice young prospects.
OKC probably would want a hefty combination of all of that, but few proposals would feel to be too much for a Celtics team desperate for a big move to push them into the mix for a deep playoff run.
It’s been rumored for forever that the place Westbrook ultimately wants to be is California.
He’s not going to Golden State, so the next best bet is one of the L.A. teams. He went to school at UCLA and loves the area, so if he gets dealt to the Lakers or Clippers, either franchise would have a pretty decent chance at retaining him beyond this season.
The Clippers and Lakers both would look appealing and could both pull a deal off in different ways. The Clips could dangle established stars like Chris Paul or Blake Griffin, while the Lakers could offer guys like D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, in addition to future draft picks.
Russell Westbrook Prediction
Ultimately, the Thunder are going to weigh all of their options and make the decision that best suits them. They already have a very good team in place and keeping Westbrook could still give them a shot at making another deep playoff run.
However, with KD gone and Westbrook possibly next to go, they need to keep the future in mind. That could have them dealing Westbrook before the deadline, and if they do, Boston stands out as the team both willing to pay up to land a marquee player and in a good enough spot where they may actually believe they can talk him into re-signing, as well.
Westbrook probably won’t stay in Boston and will instead try to go to one of the Los Angeles teams, but if a trade goes down this year, we’re looking at the Celtics as the team that can offer OKC the most and could also be willing to pull the trigger.
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