With the Houston Rockets failing to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Russell Westbrook-James Harden backcourt, the second year in a row, and the third time in four years, it is clear that the “small ball” philosophy the franchise has been built around does not work when push comes to shove in the playoffs.
Now the franchise needs to look to see where they go from here. The first step has already been done, with head coach Mike D’Antoni and the Rockets mutually deciding to go in another direction. Now the franchise needs to find a new head coach as well as looking to see how to improve the franchise on the floor.
While in an ideal world the Rockets would like to keep Westbrook, he appears to be the odd man out in Houston and will be used as trade capital in an effort to get over the hump in Houston. Now the question is where will the Rockets get the most for the 31-year old star?
Ah the Philadelphia 76ers, the team that is in the reverse position of the Rockets. The Sixers are a team that has a dynamic duo of big men in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons but don’t have many pieces around them. While the likelihood of the Sixers trading Embiid or Simmons is small, if one of those two want out of Philadelphia and the Rockets come calling they may be willing to deal.
Trading either Simmons or Embiid doesn’t do anything for the Sixers however so that’s likely not going to be the centerpiece of the swap. We might see Tobias Harris go out instead with Josh Richardson to match salaries. The Rockets might also want picks with the Sixers currently having five draft picks although four of those five are in the second round.
New York Knicks
This is one that has been thrown around that could happen, but what the Rockets could realistically get back is the question. Would the Knicks be willing to part ways with Mitchell Robinson for Westbrook? Possibly, I mean it is the Knicks, but would he be enough of a presence down low for the Rockets to be worth it? The Knicks do also have two first-round draft picks, so there are options for the Rockets. Who knows, maybe if Robinson gets out of the dumpster fire in New York he’ll become a star.
Could Russell Westbrook be traded to the Detroit Pistons for Blake Griffin? A couple of years ago this would have been a blockbuster trade, but now with both players diminishing in value, it could still happen as a way to help both teams get to the next level. This very well could be the most realistic and likely trade out of the three and could be one of those rare trades that help both teams build. This would be the one that would be the best for all parties.
There you go, three trades the Rockets could make to get something out of Russell Westbrook. As stated earlier, the best overall probably would be Blake Griffin, but the other two trades could be looked at as options as well, especially if the Rockets see someone in this year’s draft class that they want that they could see falling to them if they traded for a draft pick.