Russell Westbrook Would Immediately Change The Knicks’ Losing Culture

Winning in MSG would elevate Mr. Triple Double to a different celebrity stratosphere.

OKC has officially thrown in the towel and with the departure of Paul George and reports that franchise star Russell Westbrook wants to be traded, it’s pretty obvious the championship window has closed on this era of exciting but underachieving OKC ball.  

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Westbrook and his agent are in talks with GM Sam Presti about the next steps, which could include a trade this summer.

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Rumors have surfaced about the possibility of Westbrook going to the Houston Rockets, but reports say the trade would be considered a long shot because Houston has no cap space and it would take a complex multi-year deal to get Westbrook. Miami, who recently signed All-Star Jimmy Butler has been mentioned as another possibility. 

Westbrook has four years and $170 million left on his contract, so he’s no bargain, but he’s perfect for a team like the Knicks who desperately need a franchise player to expedite their rebuild. 

People are having a good time Knicks bashing these days, but Madison Square Garden is an ideal destination for Westbrook, who averaged a triple-double the last three seasons, and an overall average of 23.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 8.4 assists, in 11 seasons with OKC while winning the NBA MVP Award in 2017.

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The Knicks are developing a young nucleus and the front office showed some unprecedented restraint in the caution with which it approached the possible Kevin Durant signing. Every NBA squad needs at least one All-Star and RJ Barrett‘s Summer League start (18 points on 7-of-33 shooting in two games) suggests that he’s not going to have Larry Bird’s rookie season. 

Westbrook’s rough personality, electric energy, swag and bulldog mentality is just what the Garden needs as the Knicks continue to develop the youngsters and look to acquire another star to match with Westbrook in the future. It’s not just a basketball fit, it’s a cultural match made in New York heaven. He’s a blue-collar superstar with super diva skills who is on 100 from tip to buzzer. 

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Pessimistic fans and media haters are largely against the move. Some cite the 30-year-old Westbrook’s age as being a concern. Others offer false narratives about his style of play. 

Not sure if it’s because they want the Knicks to stay bad and lose games with inexperienced maybes. Or because they truly believe the “Knicks never learn” narrative that has developed regarding their pursuit of free agents over the last two decades. 

Adding a Russell Westbrook would be totally different.

Russ is still in his prime, is an extremely durable player and he brings it every night. The Knicks have had a lackluster approach to the game for a while now. The franchise is worth more than any other in the NBA, but it lacks a superstar face to give it legitimacy. 

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The Knicks should be willing to give up two first-round picks and Dennis Smith Jr. or Knox, possibly Robinson, for Westbrook. OKC already fleeced the Lakers for George, so they would probably be looking to do the same to the Knicks, who wouldn’t be willing to relinquish all of its young talent to get Westbrook as it did in the Carmelo Anthony deal. 

However, the ability to grab a Top 10 player in the game and truly have a foundation piece to build around something Knicks brass should explore. 

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You don’t get the opportunity to draft or sign a player like Westbrook very often.

Moving to the Knicks would also elevate Westbrook to another level. The Nets have put some pressure on the Knicks with the acquisitions of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. The buzz around town is that Jay-Z and the Nets are about to take over New York. 

If the Knicks can bring Westbrook to Broadway that would certainly dampen the magnitude of the Brooklyn Nets free agency. The Garden would be rocking and Knicks fans would feel re-energized. They certainly wouldn’t suck anymore and with some shrewd maneuvering and some luck in player development, they could be true contenders in three seasons. 

As for Westbrook, he would become a legend. Eventually, the chips will fall the Knicks’ way, but sometimes you have to push the envelope. All of that be patient talk is coming from people who haven’t been Knicks fans since the 70s and didn’t suffer through the near-misses in the 90s. 

Westbrook and the Knicks are a perfect fit.

There’s no other team or city that would embrace his total personality like New Yorkers. Opponents of the idea say that Russ wouldn’t agree to a trade to the Knicks because “he wants to win.” If he wants to have a legacy comparable to LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard, then Russ’ best bet is to win and do it in The Big Apple.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.