What a trade could look like for the Houston Rockets
The Rockets’ incoming package would depend largely on how much salary they’ll want to shed and how quickly. If the Rockets are intent on shedding as much salary as possible this offseason, their haul will become much lighter.
RJ Barrett’s contract is for $8.2 million next season and the Knicks are projected to have $101 million in salary commitments. Swapping Barrett for Westbrook on its own would shoot their salary commitments to over $130 million.
The Rockets, at a bare minimum, will have to take another $15 million in salary back from the Knicks. That could be Bobby Portis’s expiring $15.75 million or possibly even Julius Randle’s $18.9 million contract. If the Rockets want a full return of picks they’d be wise to take on both of their contracts.
Portis is scheduled to hit free agency next season and might be a useful player for the Rockets. If he doesn’t work out, they can simply let him hit the open market, but if he’s a success then they’ll be in a pole position to keep him around. Randle, on the other hand, is under contract for another two seasons, but his final season is for $19.8 million with only $4 million guaranteed.
If this trade were to be completed, the Rockets would trim their salary commitment in 2021-22 from $124 million to $93 million. The cap is projected to be in the region of $125 million in the summer of 2021. With a few trades, waives, and cap magic, the Rockets would be able to go after the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George.
This trade works for the Rockets on so many levels and it brings the Knicks back to relevancy just as the Nets seem poised to take New York as their own. The Rockets would get fresh picks to either bolster their roster with young talent or swap for veterans ready to compete.
More importantly, they’ll get their salary-cap situation sorted out, which will enable them to be a player in the much-hyped 2021 free-agent class.
The Houston Rockets have seemed to be out of options, as it pertains to their roster and their cap situation, but a trade of Westbrook to the Knicks could change all of that.