Within the past week, rumors have circulated that current point guard John Wall of the Houston Rockets wants a trade. Houston acquired Wall last offseason as part of the Russell Westbrook deal with the Washington Wizards. He played 40 games with the Rockets last season, after not playing since the 2018-2019 campaign.
Wall will be 31 this upcoming season. Although he dealt with knee injuries for the past two and a half years, the veteran guard is still an elite scorer. With Houston, Wall averaged 20.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game, proving he is still a valuable piece to a franchise. Although he is no longer a No. 1 option, he should still be the second- to third-best scorer and player on a championship-caliber roster.
Houston is currently in their second year of a rebuild. They started very early last season after they traded away their superstar in James Harden. Once Harden was shipped to the Brooklyn Nets, the team would then trade away every player of value for draft picks and young talent. In a matter of a month, Space City saw the departure of Harden, Westbrook, Victor Oladipo, and P.J. Tucker. The team received forward Kevin Porter Jr. and multiple future first round picks.
Finding a Trade Partner
Wall has never made it to the NBA Finals, and has one year remaining on his contract unless he accepts his player option for the 2022-2023 season. It would make sense for him to desire a trade to a contending team so that he can have a chance to win a ring. However, his contract is worth $44.3 million this year. Houston would likely have to either give up youth or draft capital and take on another bad contract, which would be more destroying their current rebuild. The front office in Houston would like to receive draft capital and bridge players on short-term contracts. This would allow the team to not overcrowd the development of their young core while building for the future.
Finding the perfect trade for Wall seems difficult, especially if the guard wants to go to a contending team. The team could buy out his contract, but that means the Rockets would have to spread out his money over a few years. This would create a problem down the line for Houston when the time comes to pay their young core. The front office said that the team would find a trade for Wall or he would have to stay on the roster until the following offseason. The franchise is clearly set on not buying out the veteran guard just yet, as it would mean they received nothing in the long term for trading away Westbrook.
There are not many teams that can afford a Wall trade. Both the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets do not have the cap space or interest to trade a max contract type player. Other contending teams such as Milwaukee, Miami, and the Los Angeles Clippers do not have the cap space or trade package to make a deal worthwhile. There are only two teams that are dark horse contenders to make a run for the Finals and can afford Wall; the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Boston is looking for a starting point guard. The current starter is Marcus Smart, a tremendous player but he lacks the offensive skill set that Wall could bring to the team. The team would have to trade Al Horford and either Juan Hernangomez or Josh Richardson to make the money work. Add a few draft swaps and the Houston Rockets will have a good offer to trade a disgruntled Wall.
From the Celtics perspective, it would be too much to give up for an injury-prone point guard. Boston has not had a good track record with trading for all-star guards. In the past, the team traded for Kyrie Irving who then dealt with injuries while with the team and acquired Kemba Walker, who had similar issues. It seems that Boston wouldn’t make another move at the position for such a high price.
Philadelphia is currently in an odd situation with their own star point guard. As the season came to a shocking end in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals for the team, Philadelphia and Ben Simmons started drifting apart from one another. Fans ridiculed their All-Star after being unable to shoot the ball during the playoffs, and Simmons started to cut ties with the team. With his future seemingly ending with the team, the 76ers might look into trading for a new starting point guard. With Wall available, it should be a match made in heaven. Wall is a crafty scorer who can shoot the ball, and is an incredible finisher at the rim.
The addition would help spread the court and keep the same level of playmaking that Simmons offers. Although adding Wall would mean the loss of an elite defender, the veteran guard is capable of defending his position at a league’s average. The 76ers would not have to give up more than Simmons for this trade, as Houston will be the team to cash in on a superstar. 76ers president Daryl Morey is on record that he wants at a minimum three first-round picks, and a few pick swaps. That asking price is unattainable by any team. Houston should offer veteran Wall and three first-round picks with top-three protection on this year’s pick.
This trade would help Houston progress their rebuild as they can build around a certified all-star. Philadelphia receives some draft capital for the future, as well as receiving an offensive-minded guard. Wall agreed with the team that he would sit out until he was traded away. This allows him to stay healthy in case a trade is not made prior to the season. It also allows the team to develop their younger players by opening more minutes at the guard position. By midseason, the Rockets will have traded Wall to his new team or in the worst case, released the former all-star.
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