Following the end of another disappointing season, the Houston Rockets find themselves in a state of major uncertainty.
Head coach Mike D’Antoni will not return and the front-office staff are reportedly trying to set up a “culture reset” moving forward. At this point, nobody really knows what that means, only that change is inevitable for Houston this offseason.
With that in mind, Gregg Swartz of Bleacher Report recently outlined a deal that could bring in several young and talented pieces to the Rockets — for the price of their superstar guard, Russell Westbrook.
Indiana Pacers Receive: PG Russell Westbrook, PF Robert Covington
Houston Rockets Receive: PG Malcolm Brogdon, C Myles Turner, F Doug McDermott, G/F Jeremy Lamb, 2021 first-round pick (lottery-protected)
The market for Westbrook this offseason should be slim. It would take the perfect team to take on his remaining three-year, $131.5 million contract, one that believes his talent can take it from mediocrity to serious contention for a conference or league title.
Following five straight first-round playoff losses, the Pacers are the perfect team to take the gamble.
Indiana currently doesn’t have any bad contracts on the team, and Westbrook was one of two players to average at least 27 points, seven rebounds and seven assists this season (Luka Doncic). The former MVP, nine-time All-Star and two-time scoring champ is talented enough to lift the Pacers out of the first round, especially with two other All-Stars by his side.
The trade would set up a Pacers lineup that looks something like this: Russell Westbrook, Victor Oladipo, T.J. Warren, Robert Covington, and Goga Bitadze. At their best, that’s a team that can compete for a title. Worst case, they’re lower level playoff team. It’s a deal that brings in a star to Indiana, which they haven’t had since the departure of Paul George.
For Houston, they’d be betting on the talents of James Harden to take them where they need to go in the Western Conference playoffs. Choosing depth over star-power is a questionable choice, but one the Rockets my have to make if they deem it necessary to split the current backcourt duo.
It’s a fair deal and one gives both sides what they need for their current situation but, of course, whatever happens, will be up to Houston and what they decide to do with Russ moving forward. It’ll be a busy few months for Daryl Morey.