There has been a lot of talk about Russell Westbrook and his performance in the NBA playoffs this year. He did not live up to his all NBA 3rd Team Selection (which he was awarded recently) because he looked like he was lost on the floor against the Lakers. He was careless with the ball, shot very poorly, and was not the All-Star player that we have all come to know.
But he has an excuse. He was fresh off an injury and started looking better as the games went by. When it comes to pure athleticism and overall talent, Russ is still one of the best point guards in the NBA. But he might not be the guy for the Houston Rockets. Harden dominates the ball a lot and Russ looked out of sorts at times playing second fiddle to him.
Not to mention, Russ is not getting any younger. His injury history is questionable and
if the Rockets want to make a move, Sacramento might have the answers. The Kings have not had a bonafide star since DeMarcus Cousins, and even that was short-lived due to his injuries. Westbrook would immediately become the MVP for them, while Houston would receive some nice assets in return.
Here are the reasons why the Kings and Rockets should swap De'Aaron Fox and Harrison Barnes for Russell Westbrook.
3. Russell Westbrook In Los Angeles
Russel Westbrook is a California native and clearly has the charisma and play that suits the city. He has no problem being in the limelight, with both his extraordinarily unique fashion sense and flashy playing style catering to the California scene. The Kings are often an afterthought when compared to the likes of the Lakers and Warriors, but Russ has a chance to make them cool again. Gone are the days with Chris Webber and Mike Bibby running the show, and they need excitement again.
De'Aaron Fox is a great young point guard who will be a star in the league one day, but it is very likely he will never be as good as Russell Westbrook. Russ is a bonafide MVP candidate when healthy and the number one option on a team, because he fills the stat sheet better than any player at his position. Russ, at this stage and at least the next few years, is a better player than Fox. Another advantage for Sacramento is moving on from Harrison Barnes, who is making big money without performing too well as the Kings "savior". He is averaging 14.5 PPG on the season, but Barnes would be better off elsewhere and the Kings know it.
2. A Powerful Houston Lineup
The Rockets should go all-in on building around James Harden. They have this extraordinary player who is special offensively, and he has the ability to lead them to an NBA title with the appropriate help. The Rockets could use a powerful swingman who can guard multiple positions and also shoot, something Barnes brings immediately. Barnes can defend the paint and perimeter well and can space the floor as a stretch four. He has experience playing and winning in the postseason with Golden State, and his services will be valued in Houston.
De'Aaron Fox gives Houston a younger guard to push the Rockets pace. While it is uncertain if Houston will keep their small-ball system in place, they probably won't change too much. Fox is probably the fastest player in the NBA, alongside Russ, so he will replace what the former brings in transition. Fox is also younger and hungry to prove himself in the league, so fresh blood will be welcomed in Houston. A lineup with Fox, Harden, Covington, Barnes, and whoever lines up at center is a legitimate playoff contender in the West.
1. Much Needed Change For Both Teams
This trade works for both teams because it gives Sacramento a star and Houston the right pieces around their superstar player. The Kings need a player that can light a fire in their squad, with the likes of Marvin Bagley III needing something to push him to stardom. He has incredible potential and playing alongside Russ will only improve his work ethic and overall game. Even the likes of Harry Giles and Buddy Hield will benefit greatly alongside Russ, feeding off his energy and playmaking ability.
With a new GM in town, Monte McNair, the Kings are looking for a new light. McNair is a man that worked closely with Daryl Morey in Houston, so he is familiar with analytics-based play and how a player's impact can be tracked in numbers. Surrounding Russ with shooters and athletes will probably get the Kings into the playoffs again, something that Kings fans will certainly love. For Houston, they are in win-now mode.
Russ doesn't seem to fit with Harden at this moment, since he can't shoot the ball well enough as a second option and is better as the main ball-handler. Harrison Barnes and De'Aaron Fox give Houston pieces for the future and the present, as Harden has more shooting and can teach Fox how to be a dominant playmaker and scorer. This is a win-win for both teams and might be a blockbuster deal that is certainly on the table.