NEW YORK (AFP) – NBA All-Star guard Russell Westbrook, who suddenly finds himself on a rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder squad after they traded away Paul George, could be traded to the Houston Rockets, according to reports Sunday.
The Rockets are interested in a deal for the point guard even though one source told ESPN it was a “longshot” because of the difficulty in making such a move, involving multiple other teams or obtaining talent the Thunder desire.
The Athletic website also reported Houston’s interest in Westbrook, saying that Miami and Detroit were hopefuls in making a deal for the versatile 30-year-old playmaker.
Oklahoma City turned to rebuilding thoughts after George asked for a trade and the Los Angeles Clippers assembled a deal involving five first-round NBA Draft picks plus Italian forward Danilo Gallinari and Canadian point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
The shock move completed early Saturday leaves Westbrook on a team looking to rebuild and likely looking for a trade deal himself.
NBA scoring champion James Harden, last year’s Most Valuable Player, and Chris Paul already have made the Rockets into a title contender, but adding Westbrook could tip the NBA’s delicate balance of power in their direction.
It would require all three players to change in order for them to co-exist given the amount of time each likes with the ball and might even force more moves from the Rockets, especially given the remaining $171 million (152.2 million euros) over four years remaining on Westbrook’s contract.
Paul has $125 million remaining on a three-year deal.
Westbrook was the NBA’s 2017 MVP after averaging a full-season triple double of an NBA-best 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists – joining 1960s legend Oscar Robertson as the only players to accomplish the feat.
The move would reunite Westbrook and Harden, who were teammates on the Thunder before Harden was traded to Houston after Oklahoma City, which also featured NBA superstar Kevin Durant, lost to LeBron James-led Miami in the 2012 NBA Finals.