Russell Westbrook would look good in New York Knicks blue next to Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis.
Nobody would debate such a statement outside of Oklahoma City. It doesn’t sound like it is wildly out of the realm of possibility, either, not with the Knicks in need of a superstar point guard and New York not just offering New York and two superstars, but a guy by the name of Phil Jackson.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, Westbrook and the Knicks coming to terms might be more possible than most would think:
The Knicks have a real chance to sell Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in 2017—New York and (forward Kristaps) Porzingis have his attention, yes—and (team president Phil) Jackson ought to start constructing an elite coaching staff to begin that process with Westbrook and with free agents beyond him.
While the column is more about what Jackson needs to do with his coaching staff after the firing of Derek Fisher, it’s pretty clear that major superstars will now consider New York a possible destination.
Gone are the days when big-name free agents wouldn’t consider New York just because it was New York. Anthony is a superb teammate, but superstars seem to either want to do it all on their own or form a superteam. Anthony prevented both with the Knicks while Jackson had to work some salary-cap magic to get the team on the right rebuilding path.
It seems 2017 is the target for these Knicks to go out and get a third superstar. Westbrook is as unpredictable as it gets when it comes to his future. He could stay with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He could dart west and look to be the superstar with the Los Angeles Lakers. Or he could go to New York and pair with two budding superstars and take on the Eastern Conference, free of the wild west and some of the league’s deepest and most consistent teams.
The Knicks would undoubtedly go all-in on Westbrook. He’s just 27 years old right now with a 24.1/10.0/7.6 slash line while sharing time with Kevin Durant. He’d mesh well with a more assist-happy Anthony and a force underneath the basket such as Porzingis.
Jackson holds the cards. How he builds the coaching staff will decide much in how next summer and the 2017 free-agency period plays out. The Knicks have fallen way out of playoff contention and now sit 12th in the Eastern Conference at 23-31, losers in nine of their last ten games. While Jackson assembles the pieces of a new coaching staff, he has to hope the chips fall properly with Durant and others in free agency this summer if he and the front office really want to gun for Westbrook.
Knicks-Westbrook talk won’t die for years. This is simply the beginning of one of the most logical hypothetical fits around. With this revelation, though, it’s slowly leaving the hypothetical station and heading for reality. A new “Big 3” might be in the infancy stages of forming if every party plays its cards right.