Russell Westbrook wants to be the next big name to leave the Houston Rockets, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Following the exits of GM Daryl Morey and head coach Mike D’Antoni, Westbrook is said to not be happy with the direction of the franchise. Of course, Westbrook’s sub-All-Star play and supermax contract are the biggest factors in that direction, but I digress.
With Westbrook wanting out, some are wondering if he makes sense for Detroit Pistons. Troy Weaver, the Pistons new GM, is credited with championing the drafting of Westbrook in OKC and the two rose to prominence in tandem. The connections don’t end there. Pistons executive Arn Tellem is Westbrook’s former agent and there would be something sweet about being able to send Blake Griffin back home to Oklahoma to play the latter stage of his career.
The Pistons, however, are unlikely to be interested in Westbrook for an extremely simple reason. Westbrook, owned $132.6 million over the next three seasons don’t have enough to offer Detroit in exchange for taking on what is probably the most toxic contract in the NBA.
For comparison’s sake, Griffin, who also signed a supermax, is owed $75 million over the next two seasons. Westbrook makes $50 million more than Blake and is on the books for one extra year. To make matters worse, because of all the picks Houston sent out in order to obtain Westbrook for Chris Paul, they don’t really have any assets to offer except their own first-round pick in 2022 or 2023, and because of league rules they can only trade one of those two picks. The Rockets also really don’t have any young players a team would want to take a risk on.
First-round picks are valuable, and there is a decent chance the Rockets pick is in the middle of the first round. But first-round picks are not worth $50 million and short circuiting your flexibility for an entire season. Sure, the Pistons could ask for more picks in the far off future, but that’s a huge gamble you’re taking on in exchange for not being competitive at all for several years.
Griffin, coming off an injury is not an especially valuable player, but there is no reason that Weaver would trade Griffin’s contract for one twice as bad. I don’t care how bad the Pistons need a point guard, adding Westbrook makes absolutely zero sense for Detroit. It doesn’t make sense from a competitive standpoint, and it doesn’t make sense from an asset-gathering rebuilding standpoint.
It’s not going to happen.