Russell Westbrook’s time with the Houston Rockets will soon come to an end. The former league MVP has made it abundantly clear that he wants to be elsewhere next season, and sooner or later the franchise will oblige.
As noted by Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report, one trade that would make a lot of sense for Westbrook would actually involve a three-team swap.
In the proposed deal, Westbrook would be sent to the Golden State Warriors, the Rockets would get Blake Griffin, and the Detroit Pistons walk away with Kevin Looney and Andrew Wiggins.
Because Klay Thompson is out for the year, Golden State very clearly needs an additional offensive boost. Stephen Curry, even if he remains healthy, will not be able to single-handedly carry the entire scoring load for the team. And as presently constructed, the roster does not have an obvious second option to take pressure off him.
Westbrook, for all the hate he gets, is still an incredible player. Last season he averaged 27.1 points on 47 percent shooting, dished out 7 assists and grabbed 7.9 rebounds per game. While his three point game clearly leaves something to be desired, he is an effective enough contributor to compensate for that when given the opportunity.
For Detroit the main selling point here is getting rid of Griffin’s contract. Wiggins and Looney are both young guys that would fit snugly with the Pistons’ current roster, whereas Griffin’s best days seem to be behind him.
Masai Ujiri woke Kawhi Leonard up at 5 am. Every. Single. Day. https://t.co/Dd0ioc4fIv
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 28, 2020
And for Houston, the primary benefit of doing this trade is that Griffin’s contract comes off the books in 2022 whereas Westbrook’s comes off in 2023.
The Rockets currently have the 10th highest payroll in the league and two of the NBA’s four most expensive players.
Westbrook is in the middle of a five-year, $207 million contract. He is owed $41.4 million next season,$44.2 million in 2021-22, and $47.1 million 2022-23. James Harden, meanwhile, is due $41.3 million in 2020-21, $44.3 million in 2021-22 and has a player-option worth $47.4 million in 2022-23.
The lesson here: actions have consequences. https://t.co/aVhdqhCxfN
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 27, 2020
By moving Westbrook and bringing in Griffin instead, Houston will save $47.4 million in 2022-23.
It is very rare that three-team deals end up leaving all parties involved as winners, but that would definitely be the case here.
Golden State would pick up a No. 2 scoring option they desperately need right now, while Detroit and Houston would get some much-appreciated financial relief.
Obviously Westbrook’s salary is a massive one for the Warriors to absorb, but this is a group that just paid $82 million to add Kelly Oubre Jr. Clearly they are willing to do whatever it takes to be competitive next year.
Will this deal happen? It remains to be seen.
Should it? Absolutely.