Knicks Rumors: Latest on Russell Westbrook Trade After Elfrid Payton Contract

Blake SchusterAnalyst IIINovember 22, 2020

New York Knicks guard Elfrid Payton handles the ball in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Friday, March 6, 2020, at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Thunder won 126-103. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Unless the New York Knicks make a major reversal, it appears first-year president Leon Rose has more or less assembled the roster he intends to take into the 2020-21 season. 

That means a trade for Russell Westbrook or John Wall is all but dead at the moment. 

According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, the Knicks are "running it back" with a similar backcourt as it had in 2019-20.

New York re-signed guard Elfrid Payton to a one-year, $5 million deal on Saturday after the team waived him on November 19. As the market for ball-handlers quickly dried up after the Toronto Raptors re-signed Fred VanVleet, Rajon Rondo landed with the Atlanta Hawks and Jeff Teague agreed to a deal with the Boston Celtics, the Knicks were left with few options. 

Trading for Westbrook apparently isn't one of them.

Ian Begley of SNY.TV reported Saturday afternoon the Knicks won't be starting discussions with the Houston Rockets anytime soon: 

"Lastly, the Knicks can look to fill the void at point guard via trade. Russell Westbrook reportedly wants out of Houston and John Wall wants out of Washington, The Athletic reports.

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"I'd expect New York to continue to take a conservative approach in trades that net a veteran on a long-term contract. We saw them do that with Chris Paul. It's reasonable to expect them to do that in any future conversations about Westbrook or Wall trades."

The point guard market doesn't look much more promising for New York next offseason, either. 

Mike Conley, Kyle Lowry, Patty Mills and Dante Exum lead the expected free agent class in 2021 and it's unclear if any will fit head coach Tom Thibodeau's system should they become available. 

For now, the Knicks will work with a backcourt featuring Payton, Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr. and RJ Barrett. 

As the club works on focusing on young stars in Mitchell Robinson and first-round draft pick Obi Toppin, filling out the backcourt will take some deft maneuvering from the front office until New York's point guard of the future arrives.