Knicks should stay far away from 9x All-Star in free agency

New York Knicks, Russell Westbrook
Apr 18, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Russell Westbrook (0) against the Phoenix Suns during game two of the 2023 NBA playoffs at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As the New York Knicks delve into their options for roster depth through free agency this off-season, there’s one free-agent guard they should steer clear of—former MVP and 9-time All-Star, Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook’s Career: Decline and Unfulfilled Experiments

Westbrook’s career has seen a gradual decline over recent seasons. His last season witnessed the termination of the Los Angeles Lakers’ Westbrook-LeBron-Davis experiment when the Lakers traded him to the Utah Jazz at the deadline, followed by a $46 million buyout and a subsequent signing with the Los Angeles Clippers on a minimal deal.

Across the 2022-23 season, Westbrook averaged 15.9 points per game—his lowest since his rookie season—5.8 rebounds, and 7.5 assists over 73 games with the Lakers and Clippers. Though his efficiency did increase with the Clippers, he’s still a shadow of the player he was in his prime.

The Knicks’ Strategic Approach: Younger Talent and a Title Contention

The Knicks are on the hunt for validated yet younger talent to bolster their title-contention prospects for the coming years. Westbrook, unfortunately, doesn’t align with the Knicks’ timeline, and it’s doubtful he would feature prominently on a Knicks team with an average age of 24.

Potential Westbrook Problems: Spacing and Role Expectations

Introducing Westbrook could also present a spacing problem. He’s notorious for his inconsistent shooting from beyond the arc—averaging 30% from three since 2019—with most of his points generated from inside the paint. The Knicks are seeking players who can both defend and reliably score from three-point range, a description that doesn’t match Westbrook’s profile.

Furthermore, it’s improbable that Westbrook would be content with a reduced bench role for the Knicks. Considering his history, he’s likely to opt for a short-term deal offering guaranteed playing time and financial benefits—conditions the Knicks may not be able to provide.

Knicks’ Offseason Priority: Elite Young Wings, Not Westbrook

In summary, the Knicks need to avoid Westbrook and concentrate on procuring elite young wing-type players with excellent shooting and defending capabilities, as this is the more glaring gap to fill this off-season.

While it remains to be seen how the Knicks navigate free agency, their plans should decidedly exclude negotiations with Westbrook.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @DylanBacker_

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