Yes I get it Russell Westbrook is once again the scapegoat for what could another failed experiment but judging on what I’ve seen from the Lakers this season Russ should not be at fault. He is shooting a respectable field goal percentage and is quite honestly being held bac by LeBron James. Yes I said it, LeBron’s refusal to completely get off the ball and allow Russ to run the show is holding Westbrook back for being who he is. Looking at the Knicks I am not shocked by how they’ve turned out, I never understood the signing of Evan Fournier and I never expected much of a renaissance for Kemba Walker either. RJ Barrett has convinced me he could be the face of the franchise but he needs a legitimate running mate which is not Julius Randle. Julius has regressed this season statistically but I think at this point in his career it’s fair to say that he could be at best the third best player on a contender not second or first.
Russ has been jumping around quite a bit ever since leaving Oklahoma City and most thought he finally found a home with the Lakers but his last stop could be the Knicks and it might be where he finally finds an identity. I would not judge Westbrook based off this season, one Frank Vogel is not a good enough offensive coach to use Westbrook the right way and two LeBron is busy chasing a scoring record which won’t do much for him as he keeps chasing Jordan for the GOAT crown. With Russell Westbrook scoring 30 points in the second half against the Charlotte Hornets weeks ago and his brutal dunk over Rudy Gobert it’s clear Russ is still super-human he’s just being asked to be a role player which is not who he is in Los Angeles. It’s as if NBA fans forgot the man was once a scoring champion and leading the league in assists perennially.
The Knicks need star power and right now they don’t look like an attractive destination for any looming big time free-agent which is why they should trade for Westbrook who still has at least 3 more seasons playing at an all-star level they just need to put the ball in his hands. If Tom is still coaching I’m sure he will gladly give Westbrook all the minutes he wants and he will be the equilibrium for a Knick team in search of an identity. Most expected Randle’s ascension to stardom to continue going into this season but instead this season for the Knicks has shown us RJ needs a running mate and they’ve struggled mightily with the injury of Derrick Rose and demotion of Kemba Walker who has been as inconsistent as they come this season. I don’t think Westbrook deserves the backlash he has received this season because no one is at fault more than LeBron who refuses to play defense and put his stats aside for the betterment of the team.
Just give Westbrook the ball and let him do as he pleases, on the Lakers he has to think the game too much because he has to worry so much about deferring to LeBron who wants his 10-13 minute isolation opportunies from the top of the key all the time. You plug Russ in that Knicks lineup and he instantly becomes the first option on the team with RJ Barrett second, not to mention they both compliment each other rather well since RJ isn’t much of a ball hog or seeking to get up 20 shots attempts every game. Westbrook once again becomes an all-star next season if he escapes the shadow of LeBron in Los Angeles and could do something special in New York. Not that he will win a championship in New York but a Eastern Conference Finals or possible NBA Finals appearance is not out of the question if the Knicks put the right pieces around Russ and Barrett next year.
To conclude I know Bradley Beal will be a target for the Knicks this summer but it seems like he is looking forward to playing with a front-court of Gafford,Porzingis,and Kuzma next season and could re-up in Washington and Zach Lavine more than likely also re-ups with Chicago as well. Westbrook makes perfect sense, the New York Knicks fan-base will welcome his passion,energy, and grit on the court and he will give the competitive edge they’ve been lacing all of this season. Watching Westbrook in New York will give us memories of former Knick Latrell Sprewell who enjoyed his best years in New York and helped carry the Knicks to the 1999 NBA Finals as a 8th seed. Sprewell had the heart of a lion just like Russ, he played with a passion and fire which lit up the Garden for years. I can already see Russ in a Knick uniform pounding his chest after euro stepping through the lane in transition and converting an and-1 lay-up through traffic, till next time.