Option 1: Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, and a point guard
If the Rockets are going to go the route of solely acquiring players, then they need to demand some notable young talent along with someone to run the floor as a replacement for Russ. Julius Randle and RJ Barrett fit the description of the first part, and one of Elfrid Payton, Frank Nitilikina, or Dennis Smith Jr. suffice for the latter.
Randle averaged 19.5 points and 9.7 rebounds this past season while Barrett averaged 14.3 points and five rebounds. Neither of them were terribly efficient this year, but that could be chalked up to playing for such a poorly-run team like the Knicks, not to mention that Barrett was also just a rookie this year.
Elfrid Payton would be preferable over the other two potential point guards, having averaged 10 points and 7.2 assists for the 2019-2020 season. He would provide sufficient production at the point guard position to help make up for the loss of Russ.
All three of these players are young as well, with Barrett in particular having a good amount of promise and room for improvement. This would also help the Rockets in the size department with Barrett’s length and Randle’s height and strength.
As it pertains to on-court production, it’s true that the Knicks are giving up a hefty amount here. But in this scenario, they get to keep all of their plethora of first-round draft picks, giving them a path to continue building.
If things simply did not work out for the Rockets following this trade, the path to using these players as trade pieces in the future would be much clearer than it is currently for Russell Westbrook. If we are only looking at player-swapping, the Rockets should not accept anything less than this for Russ.
Next: Option 2