While New York entered the offseason with room for two max contracts, it would not have been able to match Westbrook's salary in a potential trade this offseason. The club would have had to wait until Dec. 15 to trade free agents it signed during the summer.
The Knicks' level of interest was unclear, and, per Begley, some members within the organization were "lukewarm" on the idea of adding the 2016-17 NBA MVP.
Ultimately, Westbrook welcomed the idea of reuniting with former Thunder teammate James Harden in Houston, according to ESPN's Royce Young:
Since being taken fourth overall in 2008, Westbrook had spent his entire 11-year career with OKC. He helped lead the Thunder to the playoffs in nine of the last 10 seasons, reaching the NBA Finals in 2012.
And as Harden and Kevin Durant continued their careers elsewhere, Westbrook remained committed to Oklahoma City. He signed a five-year, $206.8 million extension in September 2017. He is owed $124.1 million over the next three seasons and holds a $47.1 million player option for the 2022-23 season.
Westbrook's future in OKC never came into question until six-time All-Star Paul George was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers last week. With that move, the Thunder went all-in on a rebuild, leading to Westbrook's exit.
The Miami Heat were interested in the dynamic point guard, but according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, they were unwilling to part with "multiple young, valuable assets" in a trade. And that led the Thunder to doing business with the Rockets.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported Houston acquired Westbrook in exchange for nine-time All-Star Chris Paul, two future first-round picks (2024 and 2026) and two future first-round pick swaps (2021 and 2025).