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Russell Westbrook Trade Rumors: Hornets a Potential Suitor for Rockets Star

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistNovember 12, 2020

Houston Rockets' Russell Westbrook (0) looks up during the second half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Lakers won 110-100. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The Charlotte Hornets have reportedly had discussions about trading for Russell Westbrook, who has expressed a desire to leave the Houston Rockets after one season.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported the Hornets are among the more serious suitors among the "couple" of teams that could look to trade for the nine-time All-Star.

Stadium @Stadium

The Hornets have emerged as a potential suitor for Rockets All-Star Russell Westbrook, sources tell our NBA Insider @ShamsCharania. https://t.co/8hineXP3AN

      

The Hornets' interest in Westbrook seems curious at best. They are by no stretch of the imagination a playoff team or anything close to resembling one. While the team does have some veteran contracts it could unload in a Westbrook trade, the reasoning behind moving them for Westbrook seems ill-fated.

For instance, the contracts of Nicolas Batum and Cody Zeller come off the books after the 2020-21 season. Adding Westbrook would tie up more than $40 million per season through 2022-23, all for an oft-injured 32-year-old who may lead your franchise to a No. 7 or 8 seed. 

The Hornets would be far better served using their cap space to target young free agents, or to absorb bad contracts from other teams in exchange for draft picks. The 2019-20 season should have been seen as the first year of a long-term rebuild, and trading for Westbrook would fly in the face of those efforts while hamstringing maneuverability.

There is some value to having a star-level player like Westbrook on a roster, but with fan attendance expected to be minimal (or nonexistent) for most of the 2020-21 season, the fan intrigue angle also flies out the window. 

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