NBA Rumors: Russell Westbrook Won’t Sign With The Knicks

Nov 20, 2015; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) attempts to block a shot attempt by New York Knicks guard Jose Calderon (3) during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 20, 2015; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) attempts to block a shot attempt by New York Knicks guard Jose Calderon (3) during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports /

The latest speculation is that the New York Knicks have a chance to sign Russell Westbrook in 2017. Except it won’t happen.

Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski has been busy cranking up the rumor mill lately with his latest diatribe involving none other than Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Woj is reporting that the New York Knicks are the latest to supposedly have sparked Westbrook’s interest and have a real chance to sign him when he hits free agency in 2017.

“The Knicks have a real chance to sell Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in 2017 – New York and (Kristaps) Porzingis have his attention, yes – and Jackson ought to start constructing an elite coaching staff to begin that process with Westbrook and with free agents beyond him” said Wojnarowski in his latest piece for The Vertical.

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There’s a few things going on here. The first is that this little tidbit comes a part of Woj’s article regarding the Knicks firing of head coach Derek Fisher. The move was sudden, yes, but not completely unexpected. Fisher had a losing record in New York and didn’t seem to have control of a team that added a bit of talent during the offseason.

Whether it was the right move to get rid of him midseason is anyone’s best guess, but nevertheless it’s a topic of debate.

Second, the idea is to take serious time to build a premier head coaching staff that can attract superstar talent such as Westbrook and build an infrastructure that’s capable of withstanding a championship run in the near future. That much is logical but the notion that the Knicks are capable of attracting Westbrook is outlandish at best.

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Westbrook is in a great situation as it is with the Thunder. He’s teammates with fellow stars Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka, and Oklahoma City is deep enough to compete with the Western Conference’s best teams, including the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs.

Now there’s a chance that Durant could leave over the offseason to join another contender and leave Westbrook behind, but there’s reason to believe that won’t happen because of their close relationship as well as the fact that it doesn’t make too much financial sense for him to immediately jump ship.

Durant has plenty of money waiting for him once the cap takes another expected jump in 2017, so signing a one-year deal with a player option similar to what LeBron James has done with the Cleveland Cavaliers makes the most sense. This gives Durant financial flexibility and the option to enter the open market with Westbrook should both decide to opt-out.

Now Durant hasn’t given any indication that he plans to depart the Thunder at any point. Everything that’s being thrown around NBA circles is purely speculation by anonymous executives and personnel. If he were to leave it would make sense that he find a situation that could house both him and Westbrook along with another great player or two.

New York wouldn’t have that luxury thanks to the contracts of Carmelo Anthony and those around him. Unless the cap takes a significant and unforeseen spike within the next two years it would be difficult for those three to play with each other and still have quality talents like Kristaps Porzingis on the team.

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Money and cap space simply isn’t infinite so there’d be a lot of hurdles that would require conquering for both Westbrook and Durant to join up with Anthony in New York.

If Westbrook were to choose to go somewhere himself that would be a little easier on teams financially, especially the Knicks. He could likely fit in with Anthony and Porzingis and form a nice trio to contend in the Eastern Conference, but is that a better situation than his current one in Oklahoma City?

The Thunder already have a title-minded organization put in place from management to the end of the bench. New York has been a disaster over recent years and just because Phil Jackson is there to make moves doesn’t mean he has what it takes to put everyone in the right places to succeed.

This is his first experience as an executive in the league and it’s a much different job than that of a head coach.

A lot of this speculation isn’t necessary. At least not right now.

Westbrook has his mind on getting a ring with Durant this season, and should they fall short of their goal there are much more attractive situations waiting for the both of them both in terms of contention and location such as the Warriors and even the Los Angeles Lakers who will have cap space and young assets after the retirement of Kobe Bryant.

It’s way too early to say where these two stars will end up if they even leave their current situation at all.

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But don’t count on Westbrook joining the Knicks.