Since reports emerged that Russell Westbrook wants to leave the Houston Rockets, several teams have been rumored to be among his possible destinations. Among them are the New York Knicks, with Knicks fans being split on whether they want to see the 2017 NBA MVP in a Knicks uniform or not when the 2020-21 season tips off this December. 

The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor first reported that the Knicks were among the teams interested in trading for the nine-time NBA All-Star. But the rumors that Westbrook could be headed to the Eastern Conference have grown stronger, especially if the Knicks are willing to accommodate his massive contract. 

According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, the Knicks are indeed on the shortlist of viable trade options for the nine-time NBA All-Star. However, one condition is that New York should be willing to take on the more than $130 million left on the 32-year-old point guard’s existing contract and make him the team’s centerpiece. Only then will a trade between the Rockets and Knicks likely happen, and New York has reportedly been weighing this option. 

Westbrook’s contract, which was a five-year, $205 million deal he signed back when he was still with the Oklahoma City Thunder, still has three years left and is set to pay him $41 million in 2020-21, $44 million in 2021-22 and has a player option worth $47 million for 2022-23. It’s hard to imagine the point guard passing on the player option in the final year of his deal, especially given the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic in the league and the economy.

Making the athletic guard as a team’s centerpiece worked out the last time for the Thunder, when he became the MVP in the 2016-17 season following Kevin Durant’s departure to the Golden State Warriors. But trading for Westbrook likely means mortgaging the Knicks’ future, which could include dealing the young players that they have in RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, as well as other draft assets.