The Phoenix Suns should refrain from trading for Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook Phoenix Suns (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)
Russell Westbrook Phoenix Suns (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Russell Westbrook Deandre Ayton Phoenix Suns (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)
Russell Westbrook Deandre Ayton Phoenix Suns (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns have been a rumored destination for current Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook. As positive as the addition of a superstar would be, Westbrook isn’t the right one.

The Phoenix Suns have one star in Devin Booker, and he needs help.

James Jones has given Book a new head coach in Monty Williams, a new point guard in Ricky Rubio, a new power forward in Dario Saric, and a potential future 3-point shooting champion in Cameron Johnson.

Yet most fans would agree that in the Game of Thrones-type gauntlet that is the Western Conference, including the Hellfire Pacific Division, the combination of those new pieces just isn’t enough to get the Suns to the playoffs, let alone make them a championship contender.

Russell Westbrook can help with all of that.

Or at least make Phoenix a relevant team again.

A five-team All-Star who has averaged a triple-double for each of the past three seasons, Westbrook would bring a Charles Barkley-like atmosphere to the Valley of the Suns.

Not quite circus-like, but certainly better than the alternative.

However, while fans are desperate for excitement and Westbrook would provide an instant shot of it (which would help Robert Sarver sell a few more season tickets in July), winning by any means will eventually cure what ails them, and the roster, at the moment, might actually be good enough to jump start the future without Westbrook’s addition.

Russell Westbrook to the Phoenix Suns would come at a tremendous cost too, both in terms of financial compensation as well as in the trade.

While a couple of pieces would have to be moved that wouldn’t cause any fuss with fans (Tyler Johnson and Rubio – if a deal is consummated in December – for instance), the trade would likely have to include several players like Kelly Oubre and Cam Johnson, not to mention probably a future draft pick or two.

*If you have ESPN+ you will see one projected trade here that uses most of those very pieces.

While Phoenix would hopefully do better and thus the value of the picks would be less, would the franchise be guaranteed  to be a playoff team right away?

What if they win 49 games this season with him (a jump of 30 wins – which would be huge),  but what if that wasn’t enough for a playoff run?

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For at least one season, that pick is still in the lottery, and while there is no one  more over the whole “lottery” thing than I am, the problem with giving up those picks is that the Suns’ cap space will be pretty much maxed out with Westbrook and Booker’s contracts and especially when Deandre Ayton reaches a point of extension in three years while Westbrook is still here.

Those draft picks (if chosen wisely and accurately), could be the best depth and bench role players the team can afford, and thus even if 15th overall, very valuable to a team like the Suns who will be scrimping for pennies to acquire veterans in the offseason – especially for a franchise not in L.A. where players seem to be willing to play in droves for the league minimum.

Jones has also traded away a number of picks this offseason as it is (both their own and the former property of other teams) so the trading of additional picks for Westbrook would stunt the team’s future development that much more should the Westbrook experiment fail.

Granted the team would have a superstar point guard, a head coach much better suited for this generation of players, a power forward, depth at multiple positions, and likely a much improved Deandre Ayton with a dedicated Devin Booker, does Westbrook (plus the likely loss of Kelly Oubre in the trade), make the Phoenix Suns a 48-50 win team  right away?

Then beginning the following season, as Westbrook continues to age, Phoenix will be very short on cap space with limited options in the addition of assets to fill out a competitive roster.