Russell Westbrook is currently on a five-year, $207 million contract. He is owed $44.2 million this season and then $47 million in 2022-23. It has been widely assumed around the NBA that the Los Angeles Lakers would not be able to move a massive deal like that no matter what.
Part of that has just been common sense, and part of it has been the reaction the Philadelphia 76ers had when Westbrook was offered to them for Ben Simmons.
As it turns out, though – the prospect of a Westbrook trade may not be as crazy as folks were originally led to believe.
There is one team who would be willing to accept Westbrook. Assuming the price was right.
According to NBA insider Marc Stein, Houston has emerged as a potential landing spot for Westbrook.
“I have been advised that I should amend my previous characterization of the Lakers’ finding a Westbrook trade from outright impossible to extremely unlikely,” he wrote.
“There is at least one team out there that would take him, league sources say, if the conditions are right. That team, surprisingly, is the Houston Rockets.”
For the Rockets, this would be strictly an draft capital and financial asset swap. They don’t actually want Westbrook to play for them.
“I, like many around the league, was previously under the impression that the Rockets would have less than zero interest in a Westbrook reunion after Houston traded Westbrook to Washington for John Wall in December 2020 shortly before the start of last season,” Stein continued.
“I’ve since learned that the Rockets — while indeed holding no interest in having Westbrook play for them again — actually would be amenable to another Westbrook-for-Wall swap if the Lakers incentivized the trade with sufficient draft compensation.”
A 2027 first round pick would be a must in order for this deal to occur.
“Yet sources say that the Lakers could convince Houston to take Westbrook back for Wall if they attached their 2027 first-round draft pick to the deal,” Stein added.
“The Lakers could naturally try to offer multiple second-round picks instead, but L.A.’s 2027 first-rounder is the piece rival teams naturally covet.”
Considering that the Rockets’ owner just mocked Westbrook a few months back, it’s easy to see why the prospect of him actually suiting up for Houston is a non-starter. But it is fascinating that the front office would even consider this move on any level.
Westbrook’s time with the Rockets was mired with unhappiness and frustration. The real reason for his exit didn’t emerge until after he had been traded to the Washington Wizards.
Now that’s how you celebrate a birthday. https://t.co/nyYh9Q4xnv
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 21, 2022
If he wound up back with the franchise, things would likely go even worse this time around.
Will the Lakers and Rockets ultimately be able to get a deal sorted around the much-maligned point guard? An answer should emerge in the coming weeks.
Related: 1 Star Boston Celtics Now Willing To Trade Away