According to a report in Thursday’s New York Post, Knicks President Leon Rose and the New York Front Office would “likely turn some of their attention to Texas if Westbrook is launched.”
SNY’s Ian Begley reported Wednesday that some agents believe the Knicks would “consider a potential deal with Russell Westbrook if Houston provides it,” and Begley added that Westbrook “saw New York as a welcome landing spot last summer when Oklahoma City talked to teams about possible trades. ”
With the resignation of Daryl Morey, general manager of Rockets, Houston will most likely consider all available options to reconstruct its roster. Given that they each have a guaranteed salary of more than $ 123 million for the next two seasons, it would be silly not to consider trading with Russell Westbrook.
But the Knicks would be foolish to even consider such a move.
Yes, Westbrook would be a significant upgrade in talent, especially for a Knicks franchise that has been looking for a high quality point guard for nearly two decades. (How bad has the Knicks PG game been this century, you ask? Consider this: For the past 15 years, from the start of the 2005-06 season to the end of the 2019-20 campaign, the Knicks franchise leader has had assists is Carmelo Anthony.)
And make no mistake, Westbrook, a nine-time All-Star, two-time All-Star MVP and the League’s Most Valuable Player three years ago, can still play at a very high level. In 2019-20, he averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.5 steals. According to the Basketball Reference, LeBron James (2009-10) and Michael Jordan (1988-89) are the only players in NBA history to match or exceed these per-game averages in these categories for an entire season.
In the second half of last season, Westbrook was one of the league’s most effective and (surprisingly) efficient goal scorers. As of December 7, Westbrook scored at least 20 points in 36 games in a row (the longest such series in the NBA last season). During that 36-game stretch, Russ averaged a whopping 30.7 points while shooting a scorching 50.5% off the floor. Westbrook has scored four times more than 40 points this season (along with James Harden, this is the most 40-point games in a Rocket season since Tracy McGrady played four such games in 2007/08).
However, the most important numbers when it comes to trading for Westbrook are his annual salary numbers for the next three years:
Here you are:
2020-21 (age 32): $ 41.4 million
2021-22 (33 years old): $ 44.2 million
2022-23 (34 years old): $ 47.1 million
And while Westbrooks field goal percentage rebounded well last season, its 3-point percentage fell to 25.8%. In fact, he was only the fourth player in NBA history to try more than 200 3-pointers and shoot less than 26% from downtown. And for the past three years combined, Westbrook was the only player in the league to try 700+ Treys and shoot below 29% behind the bow.
This is especially noteworthy when you consider that Russ is set to celebrate his 32nd birthday next month and has depended heavily on his otherworldly athleticism throughout his career in the Hall of Fame. As I’ve set out at length above, Westbrook’s success is due to his ability to blow off defenders and explode violently towards the basket. When he is in his mid-30s and his unsurpassed athletic lead is waning, it is hard to imagine that he will successfully advance to the next phase of his career.
The Knicks, who have lost at least 45 games each in the last seven seasons, are at the beginning of a long renovation and are nowhere near championship fights. The deal with Westbrook and its onerous contract may theoretically make sense for a team just a step away from a title, but the Knicks definitely don’t meet those criteria.
For New York, it would be a grave mistake two years after the player turns 34 to acquire a player who is making north of $ 47 million (which is more than 40% of the team’s cap space).
While this year’s harvest of free active ingredients is relatively weak, some quality protectors will hit the open market, including Fred VanVleet who will be unreserved. Instead of pledging to pay 32.7 million US dollars to 32.7 million US dollars over the next three years, 26 year old VanVleet (which is about to bloom) would sign a four-year contract near US $ 80 million concluding will be a far smarter allocation of the franchise’s resources.
To their credit, the Knicks recently avoided the front office mistakes that previous regimes sparked, like trading an aging superstar with an albatross of a contract. New York has patiently guarded its salary cap by refusing to hand out long-term contracts, and as a result, it is expected that by the summer of 2021, when a bevy of superstars donate a bevy of $ 100 million for free agents, it will be free Agency met. In addition, the Knicks will own seven first-round draft picks for the next four years. (The OKC Thunder is the only team in the league that has more future first-round selections over the same period.)
Leon Rose and the company should focus on adding 20-year-old RJ Barrett and 22-year-old Mitchell Robinson along with their first two selection rounds in next month’s draft while maintaining the cap’s priceless asset flexibility for the future.
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