There aren’t many teams that are the right mix of desperate to make the playoffs and flexible roster-wise in order to conceivably pull off a trade for Russell Westbrook, but one is the New York Knicks, and multiple reports on Friday suggested the Knicks’ interest in Westbrook is legit.
It was first indicated by Jonathan Macri, an independent Knicks reporter, in his Knicks Film School newsletter, who wrote Friday morning that New York was exploring a package centered around Julius Randle and multiple draft picks (the Knicks also have a couple Dallas first-round picks remaining from the Kristaps Porzingis trade).
The deal, according to Macri, hinged on Houston accepting a deal that did not include any of the Knicks’ premier young players or the eighth overall pick next week.
— ShwinnyPooh (@shwinnypooh) November 13, 2020
That reporting was backed up later in the day by Marc Stein of the New York Times, who said the Knicks have “weighed” a deal for Westbrook, and that the Rockets would be amenable too it so long as they were not taking back equally exorbitant salaries in return, which the Knicks don’t really have.
The Knicks are on the short list of viable trade destinations for Houston's Russell Westbrook, league sources say
If the Knicks prove willing to absorb the $130+ million left on Westbrook's contract to make him their centerpiece, there is a trade to be made
They have weighed it
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) November 13, 2020
This pathway works for New York because the team can create tens of millions of dollars in cap room if they decline team options for Bobby Portis, Wayne Ellington, and Taj Gibson, in addition to potentially cutting Elfrid Payton. If the Knicks can avoid giving up players like R.J. Barrett or Mitchell Robinson, the decision would likely come down to basically if New York is willing to give up some late first-round picks and consolidate its spending on Westbrook rather than the few players it signed last summer who now have team options.