When we wrote about trading Russell Westbrook on May 1st, the responses were overwhelmingly negative. Nobody will go to the games, the Thunder will be irrelevant, they already traded James Harden and regret it, etc, etc.
Six days later, here’s what ESPN’s Zach Lowe had to say on his podcast about trading Russell Westbrook:
There is an increasing number of people around the league who think the Thunder should look at trading Westbrook. To be clear [this is] not a report, not Thunder sources think they should do this … in spitballing ideas with teams around the league, there’s a number of people who I’ve heard [say]: It’s time for something to change there.
My reaction to that? No one should touch that contract with a 10-foot pole. Those super maxes are going to be $45-46 million for point guards who are 30 with knee issues in the past. I am walking away from that. Should the Suns trade Devin Booker for Westbrook? No, that’s insane, why would you do that?
None of that surprises me, but “NBA Twitter” is going to be stunned that it’s less about the Thunder, and more about everyone else not wanting Westbrook. The triple doubles are hollow. He can’t get out of the first round of the playoffs. He doesn’t make anyone better. And as Westbrook gets into this 30s, the contract is going to be insanely bad:
This is what a Super Max contract gets you:
2018-2019: $35.35 million
2019-2020: $38.17 million
2020-2021: $41.00 million
2021-2022: $43.84 million
2022-2023: $46.66 million (player option)
Westbrook turns 30 in November, and he’s had three surgeries on his right knee. The counter to that concern from Thunder fans is that Vince Carter is 41 and still playing. Those fans haven’t done their homework. Carter always played off the ball, either small forward early in his career, or shooting guard. He’s never been a great 3-point shooter, but he’s been good, and certainly better than Westbrook.
Lowe’s podcast speculated about the Miami Heat trading for Westbrook; I’ve spoken at length about three more desperate teams – the Clippers, Knicks and Hornets.