The New York Knicks have been fighting for legitimacy in the Eastern Conference for years. Following the departure of Carmelo Anthony in 2017, and then Kristaps Porzingis in 2018, the Knickerbockers have been left without a true star and with little hope of turning things around.
With the search for talent expected to continue this offseason, one report indicates the franchise could be looking towards the Lone Star state to make their next big move.
"Regardless of who's been in charge over the last decade-plus, New York has hunted stars—typically of the past-their-prime or overrated variety," writes Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report.
"Westbrook is a huge name, and his counting stats jump off the page—even if his poor three-point shooting and diminishing athleticism portend a steep (already in progress) decline. The Knicks are among the few teams with cap space this offseason, but everyone always assumes that status means free agents are incoming."
Giving up RJ Barrett, Frank Ntilikina, and 1st-round picks would be a steep price to pay, but one the Knicks may deem worthwhile to secure Westbrook.
The 31-year-old Rockets star is a 9x All-Star and former NBA MVP. He averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 7 assists per game on 47.2% shooting last season.
By giving him up, the Rockets get a major boost for the future and a potential star in Barrett.
Playing off the possible teardown angle from the last section, this trade sees the Rockets take what they can get to stay well clear of the luxury tax and extract value from Russell Westbrook's contract before the rest of the league catches on to the fact that it's a negative asset.
The two first-round selections coming from New York may seem underwhelming, but the Rockets are totally bereft of draft picks. Beggars can't be choosers. Besides, Barrett is the real prize here. Whether he operates alongside James Harden as a secondary playmaker or takes on a larger role in the event Houston also moves the former MVP, Barrett is still young enough to price in real improvement. This is the No. 3 pick in the 2019 draft we're talking about. He had a rough rookie year with the Knicks, but who doesn't struggle in New York?
In what is expected to be a busy and important offseason, many teams around the association will be looking to pull off something grand. Whether or not Westbrook will join those who switch teams in the next few weeks remains to be seen, but it seems more than plausible at this point in time, especially if the Knicks feel they're close to securing a deal.