The Detroit Pistons should trade for Russell Westbrook

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Reports have surfaced that Russell Westbrook wants out of Houston, and the Detroit Pistons might be the right fit for a trade.

The Detroit Pistons are a team that has been stuck in neutral for over a decade. Now, with the 2020 NBA Draft less than a week away, that narrative is beginning to shift. The team is rumored to be “intrigued” by the thought of trading up in the draft to select a top prospect or work out a potential trade for a marquee player.

NBA All-Star Russell Westbrook is a player who may potentially find a home with the rebuilding Pistons. Late Wednesday night, the Athletic’s Senior NBA Insider, Shams Charania, reported that sources are telling him the Rockets guard wants out of Houston. Rumors suggest that Westbrook’s desired exit stems from questions pertaining to his issues with the team’s current culture and lack of accountability.

Why relocating to Detroit will suit Westbrook.

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Currently, the Detroit Pistons are a franchise amid a culture change under recently hired General Manager Troy Weaver. With intentions of restoring the team to their championship heights of the late-80s and early 2000s, it seems that a potential trade for Westbrook might make the most sense for the organization.

Westbrook embodies the personal ideology of the “Mamba Mentality” made famous by the late Kobe Bryant. That mantra would likely resonate well with the Pistons hard-working, blue-collar fanbase throughout the Motor City. Weaver needs a foundational piece to help implement his culture, and Westbrook certainly fits the bill.

The two share a history that dates back to the 2008 NBA draft. At the time, the former-Thunder executive was instrumental in drafting the eventual 2017 NBA MVP.

After being hired to work in the front office under Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti, Weaver was tasked with preparing for the draft with less than a month’s worth of time. Eventually, Weaver convinced his bosses to select Westbrook with the fourth-overall pick.

Potential roadblocks to Westbrook’s arrival in the Motor City.

Despite the relationship history between Weaver and Westbrook, it remains uncertain whether a trade between the Pistons and Rockets will materialize.

Although Weaver’s admiration for Westbrook runs deep, the GM may opt to find a foundational piece in the upcoming draft.

Reports in the Metro-Detroit area have suggested that Weaver is considering moving up via a trade to select point guard prospect LaMelo Ball. Buzz surrounding the prospect’s potential selection by Detroit has been circulating ever since news broke that he’s recently been spending time in Detroit working out with Jermaine Jackson.

Conflicting rumors have also surfaced that either the New York Knicks or Chicago Bulls intend to pursue Westbrook. The latter makes sense because of the nine-time All-Stars’ connection to recently hired Bulls coach Billy Donavon, who coached the player during his stint as head coach of the Thunder. The two reportedly maintained a good working relationship during that time.

Why is Westbrook an ideal fit for the Pistons?

The thought of Weaver finding a cultural leader within a youngster via the draft is nothing more than a Motor City gamble. Last I checked, the Pistons operate out of Little Caesars Arena. Not the Greektown, MGM, or Motor City Casinos.

Any first-time NBA GM would be crazy to trust his future with any teenager not named LeBron James. Westbrook is the safe bet, as he’s a respected MVP-caliber veteran leader whose been tasked with leading a small-market franchise before.

Detroit is not a destination for premier free agent talent. The city doesn’t present Westbrook or others with a financially-fruitful media market and doesn’t provide the most comfortable weather arrangements. Because of this, Weaver would have to strike now while the iron is hot in order to lure a top-tier player to Michigan. The fan base would be re-invigorated, and ticket sales would surely increase.

Most importantly, Westbrook wants to return to his previous role as a “floor general” for a team with a clearly-defined direction. Under Weaver, the Pistons seem to have found that.

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Now, the team needs leadership. It’s quite possible that Westbrook would be the perfect candidate to propel a youthful Detroit Pistons roster forward during the next three seasons while playing out the remaining years on his current contract. His acquisition would be a win-win for both the player and the organization.