It seemed impossible that the Los Angeles Lakers would be able find a trade parter for disgruntled star Russell Westbrook, who is making $44.2 million this season and is owed $47.1 million next year if he opts in.
However, according to Marc Stein, the Houston Rockets are one team that is partly interested in trading for the former MVP with one caveat.
“I have been advised that I should amend my previous characterization of the Lakers’ finding a Westbrook trade from outright impossible to extremely unlikely,” Stein wrote in article published to his Substack. “There is at least one team out there that would take him, league sources say, if the conditions are right.”
“That team, surprisingly, is the Houston Rockets.
“I, like many around the league, was previously under the impression that the Rockets would have less than zero interest in a Westbrook reunion after Houston traded Westbrook to Washington for John Wall in December 2020 shortly before the start of last season.
“I’ve since learned that the Rockets — while indeed holding no interest in having Westbrook play for them again — actually would be amenable to another Westbrook-for-Wall swap if the Lakers incentivized the trade with sufficient draft compensation.”
Westbrook, 33, played for the Rockets during the 2019-20 campaign.
During that season, the veteran put up 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game. Westbrook and superstar James Harden were a powerful duo in the Western Conference during their time together on the Rockets.
Yet, the star tandem was overpowered in the 2020 playoffs by the Lakers in the NBA bubble. The Lakers throttled the Rockets in five games in the second round of the 2020 postseason.
While Westbrook wouldn’t stay in Houston beyond that year, he did find a nice home with the Washington Wizards for the 2020-21 season. The guard enjoyed a resurgent stint next to Wizards stud Bradley Beal, although they were bounced in the first round of the 2021 playoffs by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Nonetheless, Westbrook’s encouraging time in Washington was enough to make him an attractive trade piece in the offseason. In fact, four-time MVP was a huge proponent in the Lakers trading numerous core players for Westbrook in the summer of 2021.
Now, that trade looks like a disaster as Westbrook’s marriage with the Lakers has been abysmal. The nine-time All-Star was recently benched by head coach Frank Vogel, who was given permission to coach him harshly.
The Lakers are barely holding onto a playoff spot as they are the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.