Training camps have opened around the NBA and the season starts later this month, but that doesn’t mean trades have stopped. Russell Westbrook wanted out of Houston and he got his wish. It was not to the team he likely envisioned but he now gets to play with Bradley Beal in the nation’s capital.
In return, the Rockets get back a 2023 first-round pick and John Wall, who was rumored to want out of D.C. after his name was floated in trade talks. Wall isn’t the star player he used to be in his prime years, but he can still be a very impactful point guard. Injuries have kept Wall from being on the court, as most recently he missed the entire 2019-2020 season due to a ruptured Achilles tendon. He has not played since December 2018.
James Harden has reportedly been focused on getting a trade to the Brooklyn Nets, but Kevin Durant said that he never talked to Harden about it when they were training together in Los Angeles this offseason.
The Rockets want to keep Harden unless they get the perfect package because they believe they can still win with him in the middle of it. Houston’s front office has shown Harden for the third time that they are willing to grant him his wishes if it means they can get closer to winning a championship. Harden wanted Chris Paul and the front office got it done.
Following that, he wanted Westbrook. Eventually, he knew his pairing with Westbrook was not going to work so the front office made a change yet again.
Rockets Send a Familiar Message to Harden
By acquiring Wall (a five-time All-Star), the Rockets are telling Harden that they are not tearing the team apart. They’re still trying to compete around him, despite what the public might be saying.
Perhaps Harden will change his tune and want to see how a tandem with a motivated John Wall will work. Wall spoke to that on the podcast “All The Smoke”:
“I’m gonna be better than what I was before, and that’s the scary part. Damn near the whole five years I was an All-Star I played with two bone spurs in my knee and my heel. People don’t know that. They ain’t even get the best of John Wall yet, they just got a clip of him.”
ESPN’s Tim McMahon tweeted after the trade that a Rockets source told him the team “hopes to be competitive with him this season and does not envision a scenario where Harden would be traded before the opener”.
Only time will tell if Wall can get Harden and the Rockets deep into the playoffs, but Houston has made their message clear to Harden: We want you and we will continue to build a contender around you.
Follow Ben Fadden on Twitter @benfaddensports
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