Knicks should go for Westbrook
As if free agency wasn’t crazy enough, the League was shaken up yet again over the weekend. Literally in the middle of the night, Kawhi Leonard made it official that he would be joining the Los Angeles Clippers. Moreover, as a part of a secret scheme, he managed to get Paul George in on the deal.
Now, with the two headed to LA, the door is officially closed on the Knicks making a move for Leonard. However, where one door closes another door opens. As a result of the shake up, the Oklahoma City Thunder seem inclined to part ways with their franchise player, Russell Westbrook. While he is rumored to be heading towards either Miami or Orlando, there is some consensus that the Knicks may land him.
The question is, should New York do this?
Let’s Turn it All Around
It goes without saying, James Dolan has burned this fan base. After ensuring a big offseason, the front office failed to land a single star in free agency. While the team grabbed some hard nose grinders, this was not the fulfillment of what was promised. Fans wanted an All-Star.
Trading for Westbrook gets the team an All-Star. While receiving a ton criticism, Westbrook is still one of the top players in this league. A former MVP, Westbrook is a historic player. Not only has he averaged a triple double in a single season, but he has done so over the last three straight years. Additionally, he has simultaneously been one of the league’s leaders in steals.
Now, while his accomplishments can’t be ignored, neither can his flaws.
Westbrook has seen three first round playoff exits in the last three years. His shot has been spotty at best, often gaining him the moniker, “Westbrick.” He has garnished a reputation as a black hole, where he will stop the ball and shoot inefficiently. Westbrook also does not tolerate the media, which could be a plus or minus in New York. So in spite of these things, why should the Knicks roll the dice on him? Simple. He could be the spark that ignites the rest of the team and leads them back into the playoffs.
Westbrook is a good fit
Of all the the pieces the Knicks lacked, one of the most glaring was their lack of a playmaker. Westbrook fixes that problem. The Knicks have guys who can score the ball, but don’t have a real structure or flow to the game. In this rebuild, the Knicks have acquired notable talent through the draft in the form of R.J. Barrett and Ignas Brazdeikas. Not to mention, the team has added a spot up shooter in the form of Reggie Bullock. The team also added scoring options in Julius Randle and Taj Gibson. Moreover, with the expected improvement of Mitchell Robinson, New York could see him turn into a real pick and roll player.
The great passing ability of Westbrook will turn all of that raw scoring talent into actual threats. Add that to the fact that Westbrook is a guy who can get you at least 20 points per game, and you have an offense that is wide open. Defensively, Westbrook’s hard style of play will lead the charge in exploiting passing lanes. Having guys like Taj Gibson and Mitchell Robinson behind him will further invigorate the defense. All that to say that Westbrook is a player who could truly elevate this team. If the front office decides he is the guy and he wants to come here too, the only question is how to get him here?
Let’s make a deal
It’s no secret that Sam Presti and the Thunder front office are looking towards the future. The team has acquired a historic number of draft picks in less than 72 hours. That being said, the team isn’t looking to win now, which can make this easier for the Knicks. New York could compile a package of young talent that could entice the Thunder. Of course, R.J. Barrett would be off the table, as well as Mitchell Robinson. Additionally, the Knicks’ latest additions cannot be traded until December 15 at the earliest.
All of that being said, the Knicks could present the Thunder with a package that consists of Dennis Smith Jr., and Frank Ntilikina or Kevin Knox. Add in Alonzo Trier or a draft pick, and the Thunder could go for it. With the money the Knicks cleared in hopes of signing two superstars, the Knicks could take on the contract. Additionally, the Thunder and Knicks have been trade partners in the past, which could open the door for being trade partners in the future. Thus, if Westbrook was open to it, this is a trade that could work.
If there is any other doubt that Westbrook could fit here, let me say this. The All-star point guard is a high octane talent that can get a crowd going with his dynamic play style. He doesn’t back down from other players and isn’t afraid of a little trash talk. Westbrook has the backbone to handle New York media, and thick enough skin to handle negative criticism. He embodies that tough New York boldness that New Yorkers claim everyday. More than all of that, his friend turned rival, Kevin Durant, would be a borough away. He can emulate the burn that fans feel and use it as motivation to elevate this team. All of that being said, Westbrook is the kind of player that New York should be trying to get. If he stays healthy and builds trust with his teammates, he could turn the Knicks into a playoff caliber team.
Westbrook could be changing home arenas in a matter of days, or less. The Thunder will be looking for trade partners. The Knicks have a golden opportunity to fix their free agency bust and grab a true talent in Westbrook. This is an opportunity the team should not squander.
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