The Houston Rockets are believed to have a limited trad…

The Houston Rockets are believed to have a limited trade market for Russell Westbrook. Westbrook either wants to be traded or significant changes to the way the Rockets operate. “I’ve got bad news for him on both of those fronts,” said Brian Windhorst on Sports Center. “New coach Stephen Silas has said he does not intend to change the offense very much. I’ve surveyed a significant part of the league today and I don’t think there’s a lot of interest in Russell Westbrook trades out there. Not because they don’t think he’s not much of a player, but because of his contract.”

More on Russell Westbrook Trade

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Russell Westbrook doesn’t want to play for Tilman Fertitta. That’s the real reason why he wants out. From what I’ve heard: Rockets Locker room personnel is straight. It’s the front office and higher ups that have hampered the team.
First Take: "I'm telling you what I have heard: they don't want to play with each other any more. Russell Westbrook doesn't want to play with James Harden. James Harden doesn't want to play with Russell Westbrook." — @stephenasmith
[The Bucks are] also in pursuit of Rockets forwards Robert Covington and P.J. Tucker; Houston doesn’t have a pick in this draft and is moving toward a retooling period with Russell Westbrook wanting out.
Rachel Nichols: How tradeable is Russell Westbrook's contract? We asked @ZachLowe_NBA today as part of our Houston discussion - here was his intel on possible trade destinations like the Knicks and Clippers:
In a conversation on ESPN’s The Jump, veteran NBA insider Zach Lowe said this of the current situation between the Rockets and their stars: From what I’ve heard today, the Rockets are trying to remain calm. There’s nothing imminent. They think they can repair whatever needs to be repaired, and enter next season with both of these guys on the team, and hopefully get off to a strong start.
In essence, one source said, Westbrook would like to see something closer to the Thunder culture that he helped create during his time in Oklahoma City from 2008 to 2019 as a way of making him more comfortable. The organization, in turn, has been receptive to these requests and is focused on building the sort of environment that functions better for everyone — Westbrook included.
But the removal of these key components — D’Antoni departing for an assistant coaching position in Brooklyn and Morey becoming president of basketball operations in Philadelphia — has left serious doubt in both Harden and Westbrook’s minds of an ability to sustain long-term success, sources said. Although Harden and Westbrook were kept abreast of decisions and offered input, both players are in win-now mode and have raised questions as to whether or not that same mindset is shared with the front office, sources said.
As the Houston Rockets navigate an offseason of major change, a new challenge is emerging for the franchise -- the uncertainty of former MVP guards James Harden and Russell Westbrook on their futures with the team, sources tell ESPN.
The New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers are interested in trading for Houston Rockets point guard Russell Westbrook, Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer said on The Mismatch podcast (5:45 mark) Tuesday: "It is interesting the last 24 hours. I did have multiple sources that I trust tell me that teams believe Russell Westbrook could be had—that Westbrook could be had—and I've heard the Clippers have interest, I've heard the Knicks have interest in Westbrook, and whether anything materializes there, who knows? Who knows? But the fact is that there is a belief that a guy like Westbrook could become available."
With Houston general manager Daryl Morey stepping down a year after his controversial retweet about China/Hong Kong, league sources believe the Rockets are likelier to look into trading away explosive All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook. While Thunder guard Chris Paul and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo have captured Knicks president Leon Rose’s fancy, Knicks executives likely would turn some of their attention toward Texas if Westbrook is placed on the market. The Rockets reportedly will promote executive vice president Rafael Stone to GM.
With Houston president Daryl Morey stepping down a year after his controversial retweet about China/Hong Kong, league sources believe the Rockets are likelier to look into trading away explosive All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook.
“I can’t imagine they are keeping Harden and Russ together,’’ one NBA executive said. “Russ excels best as the best player on a team and Harden needs outside shooters around him – not a ball-dominant guard. I think Russ will be the one traded.’’
The more explosive Westbrook probably is better equipped to carry the load for a team than Paul, who is a playmaker but not a one-man wrecking ball of a scorer. Reportedly, OKC’s asking price for Paul is very high and some league officials believe he’d prefer a title contender.
Something else to keep an eye on: some agents who represent top point guard free agents believe the Knicks would poke around on a potential Russell Westbrook trade if Houston makes him available. It’s worth noting that Westbrook, per sources, saw New York as a welcome landing spot last summer when Oklahoma City was talking to teams about potential trades.
"I think we all realize that Harden and Westbrook aren't the perfect fit for one another," the first Eastern Conference executive said. "But I think they might just have to move forward with those two and continue to try to build the roster around them." "The [New York] Knicks might be one of the only teams that could be a fit for Westbrook," the executive continued. "Not sure if there are any others."
“Westbrook isn’t a good compliment for anyone, in my opinion,” one Eastern Conference coachtold HoopsHype. “He has to be the main guy. He can’t shoot. He needs the ball. He’s not an off-ball player. Hard to play with two max guys who need the ball. Maybe it’s possible, but it seems like two good players instead of Westbrook would be better the way they play.”
Though unloading Paul’s contract was essential to the trade, the Rockets certainly hoped Westbrook would help them more. Ryen Russillo of The Ringer: I think Westbrook is available. We can talk about semantics Of course, Daryl Morey would trade anyone if he thought it made his team better. Of course, he would trade Westbrook if he could get off of that long-term money, if he thought the assets, the sum of the parts was better than having somebody that’s considered a top-10 player. Is Daryl Morey actively calling people, saying, “Hey, I’ve got to dump Westbrook?” Well, of course, he wouldn’t do it that way. But there are people who believe Westbrook is available and that Daryl knows, “I’ve got to figure something out here.” I’m sure people will deny this after they hear it on the podcast. I don’t care.
Mark Berman: Mike D'Antoni on Russell Westbrook: "Russell,obviously,we're getting another great NBA player. To get a great NBA player u got to lose a great NBA player.Looking forward to being reunited w/him b/c we were together at the Olympics&looking forward to having some great years w/him"
“We recently had conversations with Russell about the team, his career, and how he sees the future. Through those conversations we came to the understanding that looking at some alternative situations would be something that made sense for him. As a result, and due to his history with the Thunder, we worked together to accommodate this,” said Presti. “Our ability to have these types of conversations and work so closely with Russell and his agent Thad Foucher is only possible because of the depth of the relationship that has been built over the last 11 years.”
Sam Presti: “Russell Westbrook is the most important player in the brief history of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He has left an indelible mark on this team, city and state. None of us could have anticipated the player he has become, and we are all deeply proud of what he has contributed to the success of the franchise and to our community. Russell and his wife Nina, their three children, his brother and his parents will always remain part of the Thunder family. We wish them nothing but happiness and success in the future.”
Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta was fined $25,000 by the NBA for commenting about the Russell Westbrook trade before the deal was official, sources confirmed. The league office has not announced the fine, which is for comments Fertitta made to Houston's Fox 26 after the Rockets agreed to send Chris Paul and two future first-round picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the perennial All-Star point guard.
The price is really the issue. Most rebuilding teams with holes at point guard -- or just lots of holes -- expressed little interest in giving up any real assets for Westbrook, sources say. That might have changed by Dec. 15, when most free agents signed this week become trade-eligible again -- and by which point some team will feel more desperate than it does today. But given the initial cool response to Westbrook's availability, the Thunder were correct to pounce early. (I have said many times I would not have given up any real assets for Westbrook. The Heat trading Goran Dragic and blah contracts for him seemed like a fair endgame. The market was indeed cool. But remember the old NBA adage: It only takes one.)
This kind of push-and-pull infected talks between Houston and Oklahoma City on Thursday. (Talks between the Heat and Thunder had quieted by then, sources say.) The Rockets tried to coax Oklahoma City into taking Houston's 2020 first-rounder, sources say. Oklahoma City refused, and pushed for picks further out. Houston relented, and the two settled on Houston's 2024 and 2026 picks -- both with just top-four protection.
Westbrook was enthusiastic about playing with Harden again, per sources familiar with the talks. That kind of buy-in matters. Both superstars will have to change for this to work, even though Mike D'Antoni will probably stagger minutes as rigidly as he did with Harden and Paul. D'Antoni's experience coaching Westbrook on Team USA boosted Houston's comfort level making this deal, sources say. The Thunder belonged to Westbrook in almost every way. The Rockets do not. Maybe that alone will spur some change in him.
Westbrook met with the Thunder front office this week to say he would welcome a trade following Paul George’s departure to the Clippers. But an individual with knowledge of the talks said Westbrook initially broached the subject after OKC’s season ended with a first-round loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Paul will return to Oklahoma City, where he played for the then-Hornets after Hurricane Katrina.
Tim MacMahon: The tension between James Harden and Chris Paul, which Rockets considered manageable and not unusual for NBA alpha dogs, didn’t factor into decision to make the trade for Russell Westbrook. Source: “That would not have driven us to do something we otherwise wouldn’t have done.”
Westbrook, a source said, is intrigued by the possibilities in Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni’s offense, by the way Houston spreads the floor and often plays without a center clogging the paint. Westbrook’s expectation is that he’ll have more open driving lanes and that he’ll be surrounded by more shooting than he has been in Oklahoma City. He’s excited, the source said, by the challenges he and Harden can create together for a defense.
The exit strategy was being prepared. After a 10-year stretch in which the Thunder made the playoffs nine times and amassed a winning percentage of 64%, OKC, according to league sources, viewed the 2019-2020 season as its last, best chance at winning a title. The Thunder spent $60 million in luxury tax last season for their 49 wins. But they did so because the alternative was not having two superstars in Oklahoma City.
The Thunder have battled against it since their inception, and with George's ties to the Los Angeles area, there was no stopping it a second time around. The Thunder staved off the draw of L.A. once before, but after a yearlong, already successful recruiting effort, there was simply nothing left to sell. The partnership with Westbrook was a big part of it, and Westbrook did his part, with the two building a strong relationship both on and off the court. But even as George's trade request shook the walls of the organization, Westbrook didn't try to change his mind, according to multiple sources.
Alykhan Bijani: Sources tell @TheAthleticHOU that James Harden communicated with the #Rockets FO early in the summer that he liked the idea of playing with Russell Westbrook. Once Paul George was traded, Westbrook indicated his preference to play in Houston with Harden. Now both are teammates.
After Paul George's trade to the Los Angeles Clippers, Westbrook and Foucher worked with the Thunder to find an agreeable path forward on Westbrook's future with the franchise. With free agency effectively concluded, and Westbrook's list of preferred destinations extremely short, the timing made trade negotiations complicated.
Ramona Shelburne: The Thunder was focused first on doing right by Russell Westbrook in this trade, sources said. He preferred Houston, a source said. Now they’ll turn their attention to Chris Paul and what he wants. Remember, CP3 began his career in OKC (relocated from NOLA briefly)
Tim MacMahon: James Harden was a driving force in this deal, I’m told. Russell Westbrook and Harden decides they wanted to reunite and Rockets made it happen despite some questions about fit now that Harden is so ball dominant. Houston believes ceiling is higher with Russ than CP3.
Jonathan Feigen: Westbrook and James Harden both pushed for a reunion, sources said. Rockets did not believe a deal would come together just days ago.
Brett Dawson: Can confirm the @Adrian Wojnarowski report that Russell Westbrook is headed to Houston for Chris Paul and a package of first-round picks and pick swaps. Houston was a preferred destination for Westbrook, and OKC worked to get him there.
Bobby Marks: Russell Westbrook has a 15% trade bonus that will be voided. The $38.5M salary this season exceeds the max for a player with 10+ years of service.
Shams Charania: Sources: Pick protections in Thunder/Rockets, Russell Westbrook/Chris Paul trade: 2024 first round pick, protected 1-4 2026 first round pick, protected 1-4 2025 swap, 1-20 protected 2021 swap, protected 1-4 -- OKC can swap Clippers pick or Heat pick.
Yossi Gozlan: Thunder's draft chest now includes (aside from their own): 2020 Nuggets (top 10 protected) 2021 Heat 2021 Rockets (swap) 2022 Clippers 2023 Clippers (swap) 2023 Heat (lottery protected) 2024 Clippers 2024 Rockets 2025 Clippers (swap) 2025 Rockets (swap) 2026 Rockets 2026 Clippers
Anthony Chiang: Chris Paul's contract expires one season earlier than Russell Westbrook's deal. And the Thunder added to its pile of draft picks.
Oklahoma City has asked the Heat for multiple young, valuable assets in trade conversations involving guard Russell Westbrook, and Miami - at least to this point - has refused, according to a league source briefed on the discussions by one of the teams. OKC has asked the Heat to include impressive rookie guard Tyler Herro in the proposed trade, but the Heat has been very reluctant to do that. Because Herro signed with the Heat on Wednesday, he cannot be included in any trade for 30 days, but that isn’t viewed as an obstacle.
At another point in the discussions this week, the Thunder asked the Heat to include two among Herro, Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow, according to a source in touch with one of the two teams. The Heat also is opposed to including Adebayo, whom Erik Spoelstra ranked among the best centers in the league in the final months of last season.
I think Miami is the only place that makes any sense. Not from a basketball standpoint -- I don't like the fit of Westbrook and Jimmy Butler together -- but the Heat are one of the few teams willing to take on both Westbrook's money and his personality. In fact, Miami could be the only one. It would make for a fascinating story on several levels. People around the league consider it an inevitability that he will wind up there at this point, too.
Winderman spoke to radio host Kevin Rogers during an episode of the “WQAM Evenings Reporter’s Show” regarding the possibility of the Heat acquiring the Thunder point guard. “I think he’s coming,” Winderman said. “Every time there’s been a Heat rumor of any subsequence or consequence that’s lingered this long, the Heat have wound up getting the player. It’s not about free agency where they’re one of six people in the room with Kevin Durant, one of three people in the room with Gordon Hayward. But it seems like, ‘Ah the Heat’s gonna get Jimmy Butler,’ then they got Jimmy Butler. The Heat’s gonna make a trade or get this player, the Heat get that player. Yeah I think we’re very much trending in that direction.”
Regardless, Westbrook is open to a deal and seems to like the idea of winding up in Miami. If previous reports and rumors weren’t enough proof, as Bleacher Report revealed, Westbrook liked a photo of him wearing a Heat jersey.
Miami and Westbrook have reportedly shared mutual interest, similarly to how the Heat were able to capitalize on Jimmy Butler’s interest in coming to South Beach. The trouble with executing any sort of deal in this case, however, rests in the financials of both teams. As ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reports, the Thunder are hoping to get out of the luxury tax, but the Heat do not have the ability to take on added salary because of the sing-and-trade that they executed to get Butler:
The Heat and Thunder have been discussing potential combinations of players, and those specifics remain unknown. But indications are the Heat would prefer not to include Bam Adebayo or Herro. This trade would be highly appealing to the Heat if Miami can merely shed contracts of players not in its longterm plans, but it’s questionable if the Thunder would go for that.
I asked multiple team scouts and executives for their thoughts on Westbrook the past two days. Not one of them showed much interest, with one saying: “It’s hard to see a natural fit around the league.” When I shared that intel with another league source Tuesday morning, he joked: “Keep looking.”
During an appearance on ESPN’s The Jump, Spears explained the options for Russ and how he found out the player was ‘welcoming’ a trade. “His contract is so massive, so huge. Keep an eye in Miami, obviously, I think the Knicks, Minnesota, Minnesota needs to do something. Perhaps the Knicks should do it, they couldn’t do it until like mid-December. “I’m saying he’s not going to rush this, he’s going to do what’s best for the franchise.”
When Ramona Shelburne tried to remember the love that exists between the point guard and the city, Spears replied with a surprising statement. “I heard that [Westbrook] wanted out and that PG just beat him to the punch and neither one of them knew that the other one was thinking that way,” he added.
Westbrook and his agent Thad Foucher have been discussing trade possibilities and scenarios with Presti and the sides are both motivated to find a resolution sooner rather than later, league sources tell ESPN. Westbrook wants to play for a team pursuing contention, which is no longer the case once George forced a trade to the Clippers to partner with Kawhi Leonard.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Story filed to ESPN: In aftermath of Paul George’s departure, OKC star Russell Westbrook is welcoming to idea of Sam Presti engineering a trade that would bring an end to his illustrious 11-year Thunder tenure. Miami's expressed interest, a destination that appeals to Westbrook.’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Oklahoma City Thunder star point guard Russell Westbrook and his agent had “engaged” with the front office to discuss the “next steps of Westbrook’s career,” which could include the trade of the eight-time All-Star. [...] I immediately sent a text to someone who would know if the Detroit Pistons would be interested. I received a coy response. “What would you give up?”
Storyline: Russell Westbrook Trade
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January 26, 2021 | 8:02 pm EST Update