The Houston Rockets may be forced into a significant revamp of their roster, whether that was their intention or not. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Russell Westbrook wants out of Houston.
Westbrook, acquired last summer in exchange for Chris Paul, joined forces with James Harden but the pair weren’t able to be any more competitive in the postseason than Rockets teams prior.
The largest impediment to any Westbrook trade would be his substantial $40-plus million contract. While his production remains elite, that’s not a price tag that many teams in the market for his services can easily match.
There have been several teams linked to Westbrook in recent days, including the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks, but until today there was no indication that rumors surrounding Westbrook were any more than wishful thinking or speculation.
The Rockets have undergone a substantial overhaul already this offseason, not in terms of their players but in terms of their staff. The team brought in rookie head coach Stephen Silas to replace the outgoing Mike D’Antoni and promoted Rafael Stone from within to replace general manager Daryl Morey.
Stone’s first order of business could be finding a suitor for Westbrook, not unlike situations we’ve seen with Kevin Pritchard in Indiana or Koby Altman in Cleveland.
It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly Stone might be able to yield in a trade for Westbrook. The veteran, who turns 32 years old tomorrow, is an undisputed All-Star but it’s not easy for teams to take back a $41.4 million contract.
Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer riffed about the Clippers and Knicks being interested Westbrook and pathways to both franchises do exist. An over the cap team, which the Clippers are, would need to unload roughly $33.1 million in order to accommodate Westbrook’s 2020-21 cap hit.