NBA Rumors: Top Trade Buzz on Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and DeMar DeRozan
With the NBA draft and the start of free agency set for Wednesday and Friday, respectively, the trade rumor mill has kicked into overdrive. And plenty of huge names have been mentioned.
The start of the 2020-21 season is a little more than one month away, with opening night scheduled for Dec. 22. That means teams have a short amount of time to make moves and shake up their rosters before it is time to start playing again.
That could see continuity favored and lead to more teams standing pat, but with players like Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and DeMar DeRozan rumored to be on the block, perhaps teams are willing to take a chance despite the short turnaround.
Check out the next three slides to see the latest trade buzz surrounding the three aforementioned perennial All-Stars.
Westbrook's name has been brought up often in trade rumors since the end of last season, and one team that reportedly has interest in the former NBA MVP is the New York Knicks.
According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Knicks president Leon Rose does have some interest in Westbrook but only if he is "on sale" and doesn't cost much in terms of assets.
The Houston Rockets acquired Westbrook from the Oklahoma City Thunder last offseason to pair him with James Harden in the hopes of contending for a title. The Rockets played well for much of the regular season, but they were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs, just as they were one year earlier.
Houston parted ways with head coach Mike D'Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey this offseason and replaced them with Stephen Silas and Rafael Stone, respectively. D'Antoni and Morey were big proponents of analytics and a fast-paced style, which favors Westbrook and Harden.
With D'Antoni and Morey gone, there are plenty of question marks regarding whether the new Rockets brass feels the same way.
Westbrook is a nine-time All-Star coming off a season that saw him average 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game. Teams would normally line up to acquire a player of that caliber, but Berman noted that it seems unlikely the Rockets will get a "monster package" in exchange for him.
The two-time NBA scoring champion is 32 and also has three years and more than $130 million remaining on his contract, though, making him a significant commitment for any team that trades for him.
Additionally, Westbrook has yet to prove he can be the go-to guy for a championship-contending team.
Westbrook could make a lot of sense for a team like the Knicks, though, as New York has gone seven years without a playoff appearance. Making the postseason isn't exactly the toughest exercise in the Eastern Conference, as the eighth-seeded Orlando Magic only had a winning percentage of .452 last season.
Not only would Westbrook finally bring some excitement to a moribund franchise, but he alone could be enough to push the Knicks into playoff contention. If it doesn't take any key pieces to land him, Rose would wise to at least consider it.
The Phoenix Suns have reportedly had discussions with the Oklahoma City Thunder about acquiring veteran point guard Chris Paul, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Tim Bontemps.
Paul finds himself in a situation similar to Westbrook, as there is plenty of smoke surrounding the idea that he will be traded just one year after joining a new team.
OKC acquired Paul from the Rockets in the Westbrook trade, and he was excellent in his first season with the Thunder. The 35-year-old future Hall of Famer averaged 17.6 points, 6.7 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game last season en route to being named an All-Star for the 10th time and leading the Thunder to the playoffs.
Paul may be more of a short-term investment than Westbrook since he is signed for next season with a player option for 2021-22, meaning he could become a free agent after just one year.
There may be no landing spot that makes more sense for CP3 than the Suns considering the amount of promising young talent they possess.
Phoenix missed the playoffs for the 10th straight season in 2019-20, but it showed flashes of greatness down the stretch by going 8-0 in the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida, and narrowly missing a spot in the playoff play-in series.
With a core of Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Mikal Bridges, the Suns may only be one player away from finally ending their playoff drought. Paul could be that player, as he would represent an upgrade over Ricky Rubio, who started 65 games at point guard last season.
Rubio was solid with 13.0 points, 8.8 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game, but Paul is better overall on both ends and a far better shooter to boot.
CP3 did some great things alongside young players in Oklahoma City last season, and he could bring a similar presence to Phoenix.
The Los Angeles Lakers won it all last season thanks to the superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but they reportedly have interest in adding another star to the mix.
According to Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer, the Lakers have shown interest in acquiring shooting guard DeMar DeRozan from the San Antonio Spurs for Kyle Kuzma and Danny Green.
If DeRozan opts in for the final year of his contract in 2020-21, it is possible that the Spurs could look to trade him after failing to reach the playoffs last season.
The 31-year-old is a four-time All-Star coming off a strong statistical season, as he averaged 22.1 points, 5.6 assists and 5.5 rebounds while shooting a career-best 53.1 percent from the field.
DeRozan has spent the past two seasons in San Antonio after coming over from the Toronto Raptors in the Kawhi Leonard trade. All four of DeRozan's All-Star nods came in Toronto, and his best season was in 2016-17 when he averaged 27.3 points, but he has remained solid for the Spurs.
The Lakers would be dealing away some depth in the scenario O'Connor presented, and they would also be losing some shooting.
Kuzma made 1.4 three-pointers per game last season, and Green made 1.8 per game—plus he is a quality defender and a three-time NBA champion. For comparison, DeRozan's three-point shooting is almost nonexistent, as he attempted just 35 trifectas last season and made nine. Whereas Kuzma and Green are role players, however, DeRozan is a star and would give the Lakers the quality third scoring option they lack.
Players will be willing to sign on the cheap in order to play for a Lakers team that will be favored to repeat as champions next season, and that could allow L.A. to add some shooting at a low cost.
If that turns out to be a realistic option for the Lakers, adding DeRozan is a no-brainer that would cement their status as the favorites.