Houston Rockets: Five landing spots for Russell Westbrook

James Harden Russell Westbrook Houston Rockets (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
James Harden Russell Westbrook Houston Rockets (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /
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Otto Porter Jr. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Otto Porter Jr. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

2. Chicago Bulls

The Return: Otto Porter, Thaddeus Young, Draft Picks

The Bulls have been trying to get back into contention for a decade. After spending the early 2000s in a post-Michael Jordan haze, they thought they had found the franchise savior in Derrick Rose. The ravages of injury to Rose’s knees left him a shell of his former self and once again sent the Bulls searching for the player who could resurrect the franchise.

Russell Westbrook, at this stage in his career, isn’t going to be Michael Jordan or even Derrick Rose for that matter, but he makes the Bulls a playoff team. After three straight losing seasons, that might just feel like the second coming.

What would make this deal intriguing for the Houston Rockets is that the Bulls would likely have to include a tantalizing amount of draft picks to secure Westbrook.

The Bulls currently hold the fourth pick in the 2020 draft and own all of their picks going forward. The Rockets should look to pry the fourth overall pick from the Bulls and a few second-round picks to make this deal work.

If not, they should ask for multiple first and second-round picks. This draft doesn’t have any consensus studs, which could make it easier for the Bulls to part with the pick. If the Rockets play this right they could restock for the future while remaining competitive in the present.

As for the players that the Bulls would have to send Houston’s way, it is likely they will want to hold onto Zach LaVine and his skill set would be redundant next to James Harden. After LaVine the Bulls don’t have all that much intriguing young talent to send back to Houston.

Otto Porter and Thaddeus Young are both solid veterans but their inclusion is all about matching salary.

Porter has a $28 million player option that he’ll likely opt into and Young is owed $13.5 million next season with a partial guarantee of $6 million for 2021-22. The pair’s salary matches nicely with Westbrook’s $41 million salary and provides the Rockets with wing and frontcourt depth.

This is not an exciting trade but the Rockets need draft picks desperately. Also, the Rockets could once again become players in the free-agent market next season when the likes of Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Giannis Antetokounmpo will be available.

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