Amid what has been a forgettable season for Russell Westbrook in Hollywood, rumors have already been circling about a potential exit from the Los Angeles Lakers this coming offseason. In the weeks leading up to the February trade deadline, Russ was actually already linked to several teams in a handful of trade scenarios. One such deal was a blockbuster move to the New York Knicks.
As it turns out, however, the Knicks currently have no interest whatsoever in trading for the former league MVP. NBA insider Marc Stein recently spoke with Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, and according to the latter, New York just doesn’t see the value in a potential Westbrook deal:
”I pitched the idea to Knicks people time and again going back to the deadline, and they have no interest,” Fischer said. “… Everything I’ve heard is that New York is trying to grow this group as it is and mix and match a few parts and move forward.”
Westbrook’s personality seems like a good match for a big-market team such as the Knicks. So far, he has survived living under the microscope in LA, so New York shouldn’t be much different. The Knicks have a relatively young core too, so he could be a mentor for the more junior members of the squad. The nine-time All-Star still has a lot of gas left in the tank as well, so perhaps he could play the role New York wanted to but never got from Kemba Walker.
There is one huge stumbling block, though. $47 million. That’s how much Westbrook’s current deal is worth for next season. It is a player option but the odds of Russ declining that amount of money to become a free agent are very low. As such, any team that would be willing to talk to the Lakers for a potential trade will need to be ready to take such a sizable hit to their cap space for next season.
Apart from the money involved, it’s also possible that Westbrook simply just doesn’t appeal to the Knicks. He’s a shadow of his former self and it is clear that his career is now on the decline. Unfortunately for the Lakers, this is the harsh reality they will need to deal with right now and possibly until next year.