The rumor mill has continued to heat up around All-Star guard Russell Westbrook this offseason. The former league MVP has taken it a step further by voicing his desire to play elsewhere. With that in mind, another unexpected team has emerged as a potential trade destination.
Russell Westbrook wants out of Houston
The rumor mill around the Houston Rockets has shifted into high gear over the last few days concerning their future.
Much of which has centered around their two former NBA MVPs expressing uncertainty about the franchise’s direction. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Westbrook has taken it a step further by informing the Rockets that he wants out this offseason.
This latest development comes a few days after rumors floated around that teams around the league are getting the sense Westbrook could be available. The star guard has just finished his first season in Houston, where he experienced ups and downs playing alongside longtime friend James Harden.
The 32-year-old demonstrated flashes of promise in the regular season but struggled in the playoffs. Granted, Westbrook rushed back from a thigh injury in the postseason, but his play suffered as he shot just 24.2% from 3-point range and averaged 17.2 points per game against the LA Lakers.
Nonetheless, another Eastern Conference team has emerged as a possible landing spot for Westbrook.
The Hornets have emerged as a landing spot
Russell Westbrook has thrown his name into the hat as one of the premier talents available this offseason.
Things have quickly shifted over to a busy trade market for the star guard, as another surprising team has expressed interest. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Charlotte Hornets have reached out to the Rockets about acquiring Westbrook.
There is an obvious connection with team owner Michael Jordan as the nine-time All-Star has an endorsement deal with Jordan Brand. Beyond that, the Hornets have a pressing need to add superstar talent to their young roster since Kemba Walker’s departure.
Spotrac is currently projecting Charlotte to possess roughly $28.3 million in salary-cap space this offseason. That alone provides them plenty of financial flexibility to take on much of Westbrook’s $41.3 million salary for next season. Meanwhile, the franchise has movable contracts, such as Terry Rozier’s $18.9 million salary for the 2020-21 campaign.
They also possess expiring deals with Nicolas Batum ($27.3 million) and Cody Zeller ($15.4 million), entering their contracts’ final year. The pieces are potentially there for the Hornets to make a serious play for Westbrook. The entire situation falls on the Rockets’ willingness to take on contracts and unproven talent.
Other teams in the picture for Russell Westbrook
The Hornets are one of the several potential trade landing spots that have emerged for Russell Westbrook.
The LA Clippers are also rumored to have an interest in acquiring the star guard. LA has had a strong internal push from All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard voicing his desire to add more point guard help. They may not have the young talent that appeases the Rockets, but they can move veteran players to make the deal happen.
Meanwhile, the New York Knicks have also been mentioned as a trade destination. The Knicks have a pressing need to add a star player to the mix as the franchise has continued to head south since moving off Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony.
The Rockets have a slew of options to filter through to find the best deal that works for their future after Westbrook’s eventual departure.