Houston Rockets: Why a Russell Westbrook Deal Will be Difficult

Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder handles the ball against Iman Shumpert #1 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)
Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder handles the ball against Iman Shumpert #1 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets are interesting in acquiring Russell Westbrook and keeping Chris Paul. Here’s why a trade for Westbrook could be very complicated.

By now you’ve probably already heard that the Rockets are reportedly interested in adding 8-time All-Star Russell Westbrook. This is no surprise because the Rockets are always in pursuit of star power and Westbrook is certainly that.

But as reports have it, there will be a hard time getting a deal executed. For starters, the Thunder are trying to get under the luxury tax and are trying to rebuild. The Rockets don’t have young assets to send OKC, like how the Clippers were able to send them Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as part of a package for Paul George. The Rockets could certainly send draft picks to the Thunder but Houston would need to send out salaries in order to make room for Westbrook on the payroll.

I personally think the Rockets would have a hard time finding any takers for Chris Paul as he is owed 124 million over the next 3 years. Paul wouldn’t help the Thunder rebuild and also wouldn’t help them get under the tax. Sure, a three team trade is an option, but who else in the league would take on that contract?

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According to reports, the Rockets may be trying to compile a trio of Westbrook, Harden and Paul on the same roster. I would think the Rockets would be forced to move Eric Gordon and Clint Capela to make this happen from a salary standpoint. But I’m also not sure either player helps the Thunder rebuild or reduce costs. Gordon would be on an expiring deal so he wouldn’t be a long-term asset for OKC, although maybe the Thunder would be enticed by the fact that he would be coming off their books in another year. Maybe it’s just me, but I would think Oklahoma City wants players on multi-year deals and/or younger players still on rookie deals.

On the flip side, Capela is 25 and could help Oklahoma City rebuild. He would also likely play well alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander but the Thunder already have a big man in Steven Adams, although they are reportedly trying to move him also. Capela is cheaper than Adams but is he really a cornerstone who you can build around? I’m not exactly sure he is.

Around the league Capela would have value so the Rockets could certainly involve a third team,but what would that third team need to send OKC to help get the deal done? It would seem like the Thunder would want more young assets and/or draft picks like they acquired from the Clippers in the Paul George trade. Will that third team view Capela as someone who is worth trading young assets for? The Rockets could possibly send a draft pick to said third team and send a pick or two to the Thunder but that would seem like a very complicated deal.

Eric Gordon would surely have value around the league and should certainly garner interest from a third team. However would that third team have the cap space to take on his 14 million dollar salary? Would that third team view him as the missing piece necessary to bring him in? After all, he’s only got one year left on his current deal. Would said team be comfortable enough to bring Gordon in for a one year rental?

The Rockets would certainly have to include some combination of Capela, Gordon and several draft picks to make a Westbrook trade happen, if they do indeed want to keep CP3. And even with that proposed trade, I’m still not exactly sure the salaries would match. There is also the possibility of including Iman Shumpert in a sign-and-trade deal, but that would likely prevent the Rockets from being able to add Andre Iguodala, as Shumpert is essentially the easiest path to getting Iguodala, since the Rockets hold his bird’s rights.

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I’ve learned to not count out Daryl Morey but this would seem like a very tricky deal. Hopefully he can pull it off because it would be an interesting dynamic to have him on the roster.