Reports: Washington, Charlotte, New York interested in Russell Westbrook trade

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It’s difficult to fathom on one level. We’re talking about a player who was an All-Star averaging 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 7 assists per game in Houston last season. He’s an elite player. It’s also a reality in NBA front offices:

Russell Westbrook is seen as a negative value contract.

Which is why there is little interest from teams in trading for him and his three-year, $133 million contract (the last year of that is a player option for $47.1 million that everyone expects he will pick up).

The Washington Wizards are open to the idea of swapping big-but-negative contracts: John Wall for Westbrook. Shams Charania of The Athletic has the report.

Wall has three years, $134 million left on his contract (also with a player option in the final year that everyone expects he will pick up). Like Westbrook, Wall is a player whose game is based on his athleticism, but Wall is coming off a missed season while he recovered from a torn Achilles and ACL.

NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes had these thoughts on the trade idea.

In Washington, Westbrook would play for Scott Brooks, his coach for a while in Oklahoma City (when the Thunder still had James Harden and Kevin Durant, too… but let’s not go down that road right now). This would be a swap of problems, although Westbrook is the better player right now. This trade is a longshot, but never say never.

The only other teams showing interest in Westbrook — and lukewarm interest at that — are the New York Knicks and Charlotte Hornets, Marc Stein of the New York Times reported in his latest weekly newsletter.

It must be emphasized, though, that both teams have conditional rather than aggressive interest.

The Knicks… I’m told there are multiple voices in the organization that have reservations about such a move.

In the Hornets’ case, there is a belief in some corners of the league that their appetite for a Westbrook trade increases significantly if Charlotte does not land LaMelo Ball with the No. 3 overall pick in Wednesday’s draft. Michael Jordan, Charlotte’s owner, is a known Westbrook admirer.

It’s easy to imagine new Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau pushing for Westbrook to win more games this coming season, but is that the smart play long-term?

Westbrook is 32 and plays a style that relies heavily on his explosive athleticism, but he also has had seven knee surgeries. He doesn’t shoot the three, his efficiency has dropped from its MVP peak (he’s below league average in true shooting percentage), and some teammates have grown frustrated playing next to him. For Charlotte and New York, teams with young players they like on the roster, is this the best move to develop them and build a foundation? Or, is this just a move to pick up a few wins short term and, ideally, some fans in the building (when that can happen again) to see a star?

The rumors will keep flying around, but a Westbrook trade seems a long way away.