Detroit Pistons: Trading for Russell Westbrook
The Pistons have been down this road with Blake Griffin, taking on an aging veteran on a huge contact that they ended up paying to play for another team.
It’s hard to see how Westbrook would fit into a lineup surrounded by all young players, and it’s unclear whether they would even want that, as his presence could potentially take minutes from their young guys, particularly Jaden Ivey, who many have compared to Westbrook.
That leaves the possibility of a buyout, but would Tom Gores really be willing to eat $47 million just to get a first-round pick? It’s not my money, so I don’t care, but that’s a big chunk even for a billionaire like Gores.
A trade like this would pretty much be giving up on next season, as it would make the Pistons the youngest team in the league and thrust young guys into roles that they might not be ready for. If everything went perfectly next season, the Pistons could compete for the play-in and get valuable experience for their young players and then have the cap space next summer to add an impact free agent.
Not buying out Westbrook could prove to be even more unpalatable, as he would undoubtedly take shots from both Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey, the two guys Detroit is rebuilding their future around.
I think some of the narrative around Westbrook’s decline has been somewhat overblown, but he is a shot chucker and a guy who likes to have the ball in his hands. He can’t shoot the 3-point shot and it’s hard to imagine how he would fit onto a Pistons’ roster that already has two playmaking guards.
It’s hard to see Westbrook accepting a bench role, so the Pistons would either have to pay nearly $50 million for a guy who isn’t even on the team, or potentially risk the development of their young players while giving up on the next season before it even starts.
But what if the Detroit Pistons weren’t really planning on winning anyway?