Will Westbrook succeed in finding a way out of Houston? Or will the financial impact of acquiring the nine-time All-Star cause teams to pass on making a trade offer?
Russell Westbrook is ready to get out of Houston
For the first 11 years of his NBA career, Russell Westbrook played for one franchise. But after averaging 23 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 8.3 assists in 821 games with the Oklahoma City Thunder, he found himself on the move last summer.
On July 16, 2019, the Rockets traded Chris Paul and multiple draft picks to the Thunder in exchange for Westbrook. In his first (and perhaps only) season in Houston, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound guard averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 7.0 assists. However, he shot just 25.8% from 3-point territory—the second-worst mark of his career.
Of course, Westbrook had to share the backcourt with James Harden. The two ball-dominant stars failed to turn the Rockets into a championship team. Houston suffered another early playoff exit despite having two of the most talented guards in the NBA.
On Wednesday, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Westbrook wants out of Houston. Naturally, that has led to plenty of speculation about possible landing spots for the former NBA MVP.
NBA teams have 132 million reasons to pass on the Rockets star
Russell Westbrook doesn’t want to be a member of the Rockets any longer. However, NBA teams may not be interested in trading for him because of his ridiculous contract.
Back in 2017, Westbrook signed a five-year, $206 million contract extension with the Thunder. Set to make $41 million in 2020-21 and $44 million the following year, he also has a $47 million player option for the 2022-23 season. Overall, Westbrook has about $132 million remaining over the final three years of his deal.
Because NBA teams have to match salaries in order to facilitate trades, that could be a major stumbling block in a potential deal involving the 32-year-old. Will a team be willing to make such a steep financial commitment on an aging player? Plus, it may be difficult to find a suitor who has the right collection of contracts to send back in a trade.
Is Westbrook even worth it?
Ultimately, it only takes one team to make Russell Westbrook’s wish of escaping Houston come true. But will the Rockets find a trade partner willing to take on a $132 million commitment?
It’s difficult to determine Westbrook’s true value. On one hand, his ability to contribute in every facet of the game makes him unique. It’s rare to find a player who records triple-double with such ease on a nightly basis.
Despite putting up big numbers, though, Westbrook has failed to win an NBA title. Since entering the league in 2008, Westbrook has made just one NBA Finals appearance. The Thunder lost in the first round of the playoffs in each of his final three years in OKC.
Nobody will ever question Westbrook’s effort and competitiveness. But the fact remains that he has yet to deliver a championship. And considering he’s on the wrong side of 30, time’s running out for him to change that.
Unfortunately for him, NBA teams have 132 million reasons to pass on a potential trade. And if the Rockets can’t find a suitor, they’ll have an even bigger problem on their hands.