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How the Rockets stack up to the other teams on Russell Westbrook’s list

Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks on during the game against the Houston Rockets (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)
Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks on during the game against the Houston Rockets (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Much as been made about which team Russell Westbrook will be suiting up for next season, with the Rockets being one of three possible teams. But should Westbrook want to come to Houston? Here’s my take.

The Houston Rockets entered this off-season with the goal of adding an additional star and missed out on their primary goal of Jimmy Butler. After the Oklahoma City Thunder shipped away Paul George, it appears Russell Westbrook will be next. The Thunder will likely be more than willing to ship Westbrook away to whichever destination he requests, as he has stayed loyal to the organization in spite of them losing Kevin Durant to free agency and the team sending away All-Stars James Harden, Paul George, and Victor Oladipo. Despite losing so many star players, “The Brodie” continued to give the team and the fans his full commitment.

Reports have it that Westbrook has approached the team about trading him and that they are open to making the move. Westbrook’s primary trade options are the Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons and the Rockets. Should “The Brodie” want to come to Houston? Let’s evaluate each of his options and see how the Rockets compare.

For starters, the Detroit Pistons made the postseason this past season as the 8th seed in the East, posting a record of 41-41. They would eventually get swept in the first round of the postseason by the Milwaukee Bucks, en route to getting out-scored by an average of 24 points per game. Sure a pairing of Westbrook and Blake Griffin would be fun to watch, but how far would that team get in the playoffs? I’m not convinced they would get past Philadelphia or Milwaukee this season and certainly wouldn’t get past Brooklyn in the years to come. So what exactly would Westbrook get out of going to Detroit?

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The Miami Heat are reportedly high on Westbrook’s list and for good reason. The Heat are a well run organization and would present a great lifestyle choice. But they just acquired Jimmy Butler, who is a fiery personality just like Westbrook. How would this pairing work? On top of that, Butler went to Miami because he wanted to have his own team and be the face of the franchise. If Westbrook went to Miami, are we sure the team wouldn’t be viewed as Westbrook’s team? After all, Westbrook is a much bigger star player than Butler and they would have each been with the organization for the same amount of time.

This would be much different than when LeBron James joined Dwyane Wade, as at that point Wade had won a championship with the Heat. Wade had also already been with the organization for seven years and it was well known that it was his team, as he was the staple. The fans had already knew Wade by the time LeBron and Chris Bosh joined the team. That wouldn’t be the case with these Miami Heat.

On top of that, how would the Heat do in the post-season? Let’s remember the fact that they missed the playoffs this past season in the East, posting a record of 39-43. Sure, they would definitely get back in the post-season with a Butler/Westbrook pairing but how far would they go? I’m not exactly sure they would beat Philadelphia or Milwaukee this season, and I’m not sure they beat Brooklyn with a healthy Kevin Durant either. I certainly don’t believe they would beat a Western Conference team in the Finals, if they somehow made it that far. I do think the Miami Heat with Russell Westbrook would make it alot further than the Detroit Pistons though.

The Houston Rockets seem to me to be the best opportunity for Westbrook to win a championship. The Rockets have gotten fairly close without him and have been defeated in consecutive years by the Golden State Warriors. The same Warriors who are not even expected to return to the Conference Finals. Granted, the path in the West would be much tougher as the Lakers added Anthony Davis and the Clippers added Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, however I feel this would present the best opportunity for Westbrook both now and in the future.

For starters, he would be able to play less minutes as the Rockets have James Harden and Chris Paul to divide the minutes up with. I would think this would be important for Westbrook as he’s played the 6th most minutes in the last 3 seasons and is entering his 12th season. Beyond just the minutes, the Rockets are a very good team as is. They have not finished lower than 4th place in the Western Conference in the past three years and they have not missed the playoffs since acquiring James Harden. I think that’s something that would be a big deal for Westbrook, as he has played in 9 of the last 10 playoffs. Westbrook likely wants to join a team where he would be the missing ingredient. Granted, Westbrook, Harden and Paul would certainly be an unorthodox line-up but that would be a team with the best chance to win an NBA title, as opposed to his other two options.

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We don’t know what Westbrook’s decision lies on. If he’s like Jimmy Butler and making a lifestyle decision, Miami would be the destination. However if he’s all about winning and wants to get his first NBA title, Houston would certainly give him his best shot at that. It would seem like both the Miami Heat and the Rockets would each have challenges of getting a deal complete so it may come down to who is able to get the deal executed. But if I’m Westbrook, I’m hoping the Rockets are able to make a deal.

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