Houston Rockets get: Julius Randle, Frank Ntilikina, Wayne Ellington, and a 2022 unprotected 1st round pick
New York Knicks get: PG Russell Westbrook
Mark my words. The Houston Rockets are going to blow this roster up. Expect Russell Westbrook to be the first causality.
In theory, the Rockets trading for Westbrook was a good idea. You land a former MVP and multiple time all-star in the prime of his career and you have him under contract for four more years. What’s not to love?
Well, to put it nicely, Russell Westbrook loves to shoot. For teams that need a ball-dominant point guard who shoots a lot, that is great! For a team with a combo guard in former MVP James Harden who equally loves to shoot the ball just as much then you have a problem.
Having the Russ and Harden on the same team was always going to be a difficult fit. The Rockets banked on the fact that they played together for years with the Thunder and their natural chemistry together would make everything OK.
What the Rockets didn’t take into account was James Harden wasn’t MVP James Harden in OKC. He was a third and sometimes fourth piece on the team who was asked to score when Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook were either resting or being heavily guarded. So the signs for the combo not working were established early.
That’s not to say that the combo has been a complete disaster. They have managed to stagger their minutes to allow for both players to be the main guy on the floor while the other rests and at times its worked well.
When it comes to playoff ball it was never going to be ideal. Your main stars are getting the main minutes and if you can’t find a friendly balance for shooting you are doomed from the get-go.
So with everyone on both the playing and coach and front office staff not named James Harden on thin ice, it is fair to assume that big changes are on the way for the Rockets.
Enter stage right the New York Knicks.
Who has expiring contracts, pieces that fit the Rockets’ system, and who is more than willing to take on Russell Westbrook’s contract? These guys!!!
Julius Randle is the perfect small-ball center for the Houston Rockets who can average 20 a game. Wayne Ellington and his 3-point shooting offer Harden and D’Antoni another shooter on the perimeter and Kevin Knox is a young wing who can be molded into a good player with a good coach to learn from.
Russell Westbrook is built for a big market and there aren’t many bigger markets than New York. Russell Westbrook in MSG would be the box office. His larger than life personality, his unique sense of style, and his fiery attitude on the court represent everything New York loves.
In New York, Russ would be allowed to shoot all he likes and he would be the face of the franchise of the New York Knicks. His name and game alone would give the Knicks a real chance to land a second Superstar.
His playstyle might not mesh with Thibs philosophy but forcing Tom to be creative might just force the evolution of his playcalling. Thibs did a great job with prime Derrick Rose, can he do the same with Prime Russell Westbrook?
We shall see.