HoopsHype spoke with one general manager, three executives, and an NBA scout for their reactions to the blockbuster trade and what it means for the players and their new teams. “It’s a wash,” one Eastern Conference executive told HoopsHype. “Both teams needed to make a trade. Washington has to give up a pick because Wall has a bigger injury history and hasn’t played in two years. The contracts were the same. Russ should be really good in the East. Scotty (Brooks) should know how to use him. Washington will be better than they were since Russ is actually playing and Wall hasn’t been. I think Washington is for sure a playoff team.”
“The trade seemed inevitable,” another Eastern Conference executive told HoopsHype. “Two players at similar stages of their careers and both having demanded a change of scenery. Brooks gets a force of nature with whom he is well versed. Houston gets a much needed first-round pick as they inch toward a rebuild.”
After playing against Harden in pick-up games and showing some explosion, one scout believes his fit next to Harden in the backcourt should be a good transition. “I think it was time for a fresh start for both,” an NBA scout told HoopsHype. “I like Russell going to Washington and giving them an opportunity to keep Brad happy. Scott Brooks knows how to use him, and he’ll be the lead guard. Houston getting Wall and playing him with Harden seems similar to the fit with Russell. Obviously, there’s a real unknown about how good he’ll be back from injury. I think Washington got the better of the trade but let’s see what Wall’s status is.”
Leonsis had also come to believe that Wall was, often if not always, “too cool for school,” in his thinking. And, the shirtless video of Wall at a party this summer, flashing gang signs, was the last straw. (Again, as I wrote two weeks ago: Leonsis was a thousand percent right in being furious with his 30-year-old face of the franchise for doing such a dumb thing.) This was not a decision that could be made by GM Tommy Sheppard, or his equivalent in Houston, Rafael Stone. “At the end of the day, this is a Ted call,” one source said.
Chris Miller: John Wall has been traded. John, from my sourcing, is shocked, and he should be because this is the first time that his name has ever been put into trade talks
Initial trade talks stalled over draft capital and the possibility of other players included in a deal — for instance, young big man Thomas Bryant —before both teams could come to terms on an agreement. In the end, it was a simple Westbrook-for-Wall swap with the addition of a heavily protected first-round pick. Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard declared a week ago that the Wizards had no plans on trading Wall and the Rockets were prepared to enter camp with Westbrook, but situations in the NBA are always fluid and can change on a dime — a phone call is all it takes.
Jorge Sierra: John Wall leaves the Wizards as the franchise's all-time leader in assists and steals, No. 4 in scoring and No. 5 in Win Shares. DC legend indeed.
Ted Leonsis: I am very grateful to @JohnWall and his family for all they have done for our franchise and our community. John was the first player picked in the NBA draft and the first player we were blessed to pick under our new ownership of the @WashWizards a decade ago.
The Wizards traded Wall to the Houston Rockets for Westbrook on Wednesday. On behalf of the Washington franchise, Brooks commented on the blockbuster trade. “Russell’s accomplishments and honors on the court speak for themselves, but his drive and will to win are what separate him as a truly unique player,” said Brooks, via David Aldridge of The Athletic. “As much as I’m looking forward to reuniting with hi, I’m equally sad to say good-bye to John. He is one of the toughest and most gifted players I’ve ever been around and we all wish him nothing but the best moving forward.”
John Wall and James Harden played pickup together last month, along with Michael Beasley, Andre Drummond and P.J. Tucker Fire (via @RemyTraining23 , remy_runs_miami, themiamiperimeter/Instagram)
John Hollinger: Important: Houston will receive a trade exception for a whopping $103,894. (There are theoretical examples where a team could use an exception this small, but I mean, not real ones).
The Washington Wizards and Houston Rockets have agreed to trade two disgruntled star point guards, John Wall and Russell Westbrook, in a blockbuster deal, sources told ESPN. The Wizards are sending Wall and a lottery-protected 2023 first-round pick to the Rockets for Westbrook in a deal that both players wanted and had been simmering for weeks, sources said.
Discussions had been stalled since mid-November, sources said, until the two general managers, Washington's Tommy Sheppard and Houston's Rafael Stone, decided to get on the phone Tuesday afternoon. They worked out a deal within hours, sources said.
For the Wizards and Rockets, there's hope that the exchange of guards will play a role in convincing the two franchise shooting guards on each team, Washington's Bradley Beal and Houston's James Harden, to want to stay long-term with their teams. Harden has privately asked for a trade, and Beal could become a free agent in 2021.
Houston's stance on Harden has not changed, a high-ranking Rockets source told ESPN, saying the team hoped to be competitive with the perennial MVP candidate on the roster this season and does not envision a scenario in which Harden would be traded before the opener. The Rockets have let it be known that they would require a return that included a young, potential franchise cornerstone and a massive picks package in any potential deal for Harden, according to sources.
Sources said that Westbrook cited a desire to "play my game" and concerns about the Rockets' casual culture. Westbrook was a third-team All-NBA selection during his season with the Rockets, averaging 27.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 7.9 assists per game, despite getting off to a slow start while recovering from knee surgery and adapting to a new franchise following an 11-year tenure in Oklahoma City.
Bobby Marks: The swap of the super max extensions: Russell Westbrook to Washington - $41.4M, $44.2M and $47.1M (P). John Wall to Houston - $41.3M, $44.3M and $47.4M (P).
Adrian Wojnarowski: Houston has agreed to trade Russell Westbrook to Washington for John Wall and a first-round pick, sources tell ESPN.
Shams Charania: Source confirms: Houston traded Russell Westbrook to the Wizards for John Wall and a 2023 protected first-round pick.
Hughes believe it could be entirely true that Charania’s reporting was accurate when he said Wall wants to be traded. He also believed it could still be entirely true that Sheppard hasn’t heard from Wall directly about wanting to be traded. “Players will come out to their agents or other people and say, ‘Hey, I want to be moved’ and then never say a word (to the team),” said Hughes. “I’ve seen players that on one end say ‘Get me out of here’ and then on the other end act like it’s all roses. I’ve seen that happen.”
In an intriguing piece of detail in this offseason, Zach Lowe of ESPN, divulged that the Detroit Pistons approached the Washington Wizards for a possible trade involving Blake Griffin and John Wall. Via Zach Lowe of ESPN: “The Pistons in recent weeks made an exploratory call to the Washington Wizards about a potential swap of Blake Griffin for John Wall, sources said, but Detroit’s real level of interest in that deal is unclear; they value Griffin, and the conversation led nowhere, sources said.”
NBA Central: John Wall doesn’t want to talk about his trade request (🎥 @ABC7Sports) pic.twitter.com/4UIVHi0flp
Ava Wallace: Wall’s giving out 1,000 hot meals today. Heard a “don’t leave us, man!” pic.twitter.com/SSABrMvTK4
ClutchPoints: "In John Wall's absence, Bradley Beal has become the unquestioned franchise player for [the Wizards]. They're building the organization around him. They want to see what [Beal and Wall] look like together back on the court and go from there." - @wojespn on John Wall trade rumors
Ohm Youngmisuk: Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard said Washington has no plans to trade John Wall. He said he was with Wall this morning when the point guard was working out. Sheppard said Wall and Beal have a new chapter ahead of them to work together coming off Wall's injury.
Westbrook is the more valuable player, therefore Stone should be asking for a sweetener. We just don’t know how Wall will look once he comes back for the 2020-21 season. I’ve heard differing opinions on him, some saying he looks as fast as ever and some saying he’s lost a good chunk of his athleticism.
For what it’s worth, I had heard prior to the start of free agency that Houston had also asked for Thomas Bryant in any discussion, although it’s unclear how that would work now with Wood on board. There are a lot of moving parts here and the season is just around the corner. Man, this stuff is difficult!
Trading him before he plays in another game could be more difficult than waiting until he steps on the court again with the hopes he’ll impress other teams. People who have watched him play in offseason scrimmages say he looks good, but teams will want to see him in competition that matters before they put any stock into adding him. Instagram videos from offseason pickup games are hardly proof that a guy can hold up for 30 minutes a night or 82 games a season.
San Antonio Spurs (by Fred Katz): Like with other teams, the Spurs might be more into a deal if the Wizards were willing to incentivize taking on Wall’s contract. But that’s never easy. The one thing the Wizards would have going for them is San Antonio’s desire to remain competitive during Gregg Popovich’s final years. If the organization believes Wall can show something after returning from injury, maybe it tries placing him next to DeMar DeRozan — and it’s not like the Spurs have emphasized 3-point shooting as much as other franchises. But they also almost never make trades. And they probably won’t break the trend by dealing for someone like Wall, unless it meant taking in a boatload of picks.
The Wizards have been building more around Wall’s backcourt mate Bradley Beal in the wake of his injuries, with many believing that’s what set Wall off. In the days leading to the draft, teams like the Denver Nuggets were inquiring about Beal, according to multiple league sources.
The Wizards had been staunch in letting other teams know Beal was not available. It’s a reversal from the days where Wall said Beal, who arrived in D.C. two years after Wall, was his “sidekick.” According to a league source, this was inevitable. “As soon as Tommy said it was Brad’s team, you knew it was coming,” the source told Yahoo Sports.
Shams Charania: As Rockets/Wizards talks on Russell Westbrook-for-John Wall stall, Wall has made it clear he wants trade out of Washington to happen, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
A Wall-Westbrook swap is not imminent, according to sources. But the fact that teams are having discussions that involve Wall should change the conversation about his deal, even if it is for another point guard in his 30s whose game is predicated mostly on athleticism and is also on a massive contract.
Wall’s version of this would be going to the Rockets for Westbrook — if it ever happens. If it doesn’t, maybe there’s something else out there. Maybe there’s another niche market that doesn’t consider Wall the league’s least-tradeable player and instead deems him more desirable than some other guys. After all, Wall is now fully healthy and has looked encouraging, according to people who have been at his offseason workouts and scrimmages.
Sources tell NBC Sports Washington that Wall was surprised recently to hear general manager Tommy Sheppard say the team is now building around Bradley Beal, but understood the thinking considering Beal has emerged as an All-NBA talent since Wall's absence.
A source confirmed that the Rockets and Washington Wizards have discussed a Westbrook-for-John Wall deal, as first reported by The Athletic, but Houston wants assets in addition to Wall, a former All-Star point guard who is coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Shams Charania: The Rockets and Wizards have discussed a deal centered on Russell Westbrook for John Wall, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium. No traction yet, Rockets are seeking more assets.
As we reported in early July, that scenario has been seriously discussed inside the Heat and there’s sentiment to do that, because of how much the Heat loves Beal and because of the internal belief that Miami can get Wall back to All-Star level following his ruptured Achilles, which is expected to sideline him this upcoming season. But the Wizards have shown no inclination to package Beal with Wall in an attempt to purge the final four years and $171 million of Wall’s contract.
What about the other scenario, with the Heat taking on both Wall and Beal with the understanding that Miami wouldn’t need to give up nearly as much quality in return? As we reported in early July, that scenario has been seriously discussed inside the Heat and there’s sentiment to do that, because of how much the Heat loves Beal and because of the internal belief that Miami can get Wall back to All-Star level following his ruptured Achilles, which is expected to sideline him this upcoming season.
John Wall: One, I love where I’m at. I love D.C. My loyalty is to D.C. To hear a lot of Wizards people, Tommy (Sheppard, the new general manager), (managing partner) Ted Leonsis and (Monumental Sports and Entertainment senior vice president) Zach Leonsis and all those guys, the whole community is behind me, and they’re not giving up on me, so that’s big for me. I’m not one of those guys that wants to play for multiple teams. I want to play for one organization. If it comes down to it, where you have to move around and it don’t work, they’re giving me the opportunity to come back, not this year but next year after, if I don’t play well, you trade me. I can’t be mad at nobody because they gave me the opportunity and I gave myself a chance to prove myself. That’s all I ask for.
Does it disappoint you when you see a situation like, say, Russell Westbrook, I’m sure he wanted to stay in Oklahoma City his whole career, but he had to look elsewhere once Paul George asked out? John Wall: When it gets like that, it’s nothing you really can do. Russ gave everything to that city. They love him. Without a doubt. He didn’t ask for a trade. Never will you hear me ask for a trade. The only way I’m going to get traded from D.C. is if they want to trade me themselves. And that’s one thing I think the fans will appreciate, if they ever get to that point. I’m never one of those guys that want to chase a ring or do those things. I’ve told people this before. You win a ring, nobody is going to talk about that years down the road. But if you build a legacy in a place, that’s going to go on for a long time.
According to sources, there is sentiment inside the the Heat to take the final four years and $171 million of injured point guard John Wall’s contract if it would allow Miami to land Beal, who is eligible for free agency in the summer of 2021. But Washington appears unwilling to do that at this time.
After months of speculation surrounding the future of players like John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. amid the Wizards’ struggles, team owner Ted Leonsis went on the record to confirm his star players won’t be involved in trade talks ahead of the Feb. 7 trade deadline. “I love when they go, ‘trade Bradley Beal. Trade John Wall. Trade Otto Porter.’ And I go ‘ok, for who?’ We’re not trading any of those players… wouldn’t throw in the towel on this core,” Leonsis said during an interview with WTOP radio.
Noah Frank: On possibility of dealing Wall, Beal, Porter before NBA Trade Deadline: "We're not trading any of those players"
Ted Leonsis expressed firmly what team officials have been indicating for weeks, that if they are active at the trade deadline, it won't be with deals involving their main guys. That means Beal is highly unlikely to be dealt. Otto Porter Jr. can be considered similarly and John Wall should go without saying given his current injury status and hefty trade kicker.
But why would the Wizards trade a young, productive star on a reasonable deal? According to the rival executives and agents, the Wizards may not and have indicated no willingness to part with Beal. The problem is Wall. "Wall is unmovable," one of the rival executives told B/R.
Every time you ask Wall or his people, they say he wants to be a Wizard for life. It’s good to hear, and also understandable-he’s been given the keys to this franchise since he got here. But the Wizards are putting a lot of coin in his pocket, too. “It’s on John to demand more of John,” a veteran Eastern Conference front office executive said last week.
Some in the league believe the Knicks are stocking up their young assets and will make a major play for Wall if he becomes available. The Wizards (9-14) were said to be ready to break it up after their disastrous start. It would have to be a three-team deal with the Knicks throwing in Ntilikina, Dotson, Courtney Lee (for cap purposes), a 2020 first-round and second-round pick.
NBA teams remain uncertain about the trade bonus in John Wall's contract, league sources confirmed to ESPN. As Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier this month, the All-Star point guard -- along with the rest of the Washington Wizards' roster -- is available to discuss in trade scenarios. Interest in Wall is close to nonexistent around the league, per sources. Still, teams are going through the complicated exercise of trying to understand how a Wall trade would even work.
Ironically, the team they just lost to could be a starting point for a turnaround. The belief is the entire roster is available, there are no longer untouchables, sources said. This obviously includes stars John Wall and Bradley Beal, but Houston hasn’t had any deep discussions for any Wizard yet. They merely placed a few calls, the first being two weeks ago.
The Washington Wizards are floundering at 7-12. While the Wizards are only two games back of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, the dysfunction in Washington is leading to widespread speculation that the organization will blow things up and trade away major players like John Wall or Bradley Beal. “John Wall is a very different situation [from Bradley Beal],” said Wojnarowski on the Woj Pod. “You can count on one hand, and probably with just a couple of fingers places that really might have interest in taking his contract on and what it all means to bring him in. “I would never say there’s no market for John Wall, but I think Bradley Beal has a much broader market. But if Washington was going to do something, they would have to get every last asset they could for Bradley Beal.”
On Tuesday, ahead of the Wizards' next game against the Clippers, Wall made his first comments on the matter. He noted it was the first time he's been mentioned in a credible trade report. "I don't know what [trade rumors] feel like," he said.
While discussing the possibility of leaving, Wall made it clear he doesn't want to be traded. "I love being here. I want to finish my career here," he said. "That's all I can control is playing basketball. I can't control nothing else."
SLAM Magazine: John Wall: "To hear certain things like being traded… It’s kind of funny and frustrating at the same time. But I’ve been through worse things. I just stand over top of all of that.” 💯 (via @HoopDistrictDC) pic.twitter.com/uXzQnwGu1I
Several executives said Tuesday that finding a suitor for Wall would be difficult at best. One put it more bluntly. "If they can get anything for Wall and don't do it, they are idiots," the executive said.
Though an ESPN report suggested that the Wizards are willing to move anyone on the roster in possible trades — including cornerstones Wall and Beal — league sources dispute whether that’s a plan the franchise is truly willing to execute. For one, the value for every Wizard, including the all-star backcourt, couldn’t be any lower than it is right now. Some have suggested that a public shaming might be a necessary wake-up call for players who have become way too comfortable with the fat contracts owner Ted Leonsis has handed out in recent years.
“With the news we had today, that’s either going to boost us or fuck us up a little bit,” Bradley Beal told The Athletic after Monday’s practice. “We’ll see. “We’ve already aired out a lot of our problems the last couple of years. It’s not like any of our stuff is a secret,” Beal said. “We just got to do it on the floor. It’s not like we have bad character guys or bad guys. We’re just not getting it [done] in between the lines… Maybe it’s entitlement. Maybe we’re too cool. Maybe we feel we can flip it on a switch. All the things we’ve said in the past that’s been a problem with us. I don’t know. That’s the annoying part about it. You can’t pinpoint it as one thing.”
In talking with people around the league, it’s clear that Beal’s value stands high and above Porter’s or Wall’s. Beal has three years and $81 million remaining on his contract, including this season, generally considered fair value.
Fred Katz: From talking with people around the NBA, the league is as down on Wall's value as you'd imagine. Supermax deal ($170-plus million over four years) starts next year, and people are genuinely wondering about his locker room dynamic. Today isn't helping that.
The Wizards’ thoughts of trading either Wall or Beal are very preliminary, according to a person familiar with the situation. By putting this information out there, they are simply letting other teams know they will listen. Despite the whirlwind of reports, any major deal would likely take a long time to orchestrate. The Wizards would likely take months to lay the groundwork, even if matters get worse on the court.
Although Washington may be floundering during a 5-11 start to the season, there is a belief that the team has zero plans to move on from either of its franchise cornerstones, based on conversations with multiple league sources who have familiarity with the Wizards and how their front office operates. A Wizards spokesman, meanwhile, cited team policy by saying President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld “doesn’t comment on rumors, so he won’t comment on this one.”
When asked if he would be “surprised” if the Wizards made a deal involving Wall or Beal, Brooks responded: “I mean, like I said, the start that we’re having, there’s going to be rumors. It’s just part of the business. It’s just part of it. I’ve been in the league a long time, that’s just always been the case.”
Candace Buckner: Bradley Beal on whether the report of him and Wall being made available came as news to him: "I mean, I’m not going to be naïve to it, you know. I have a phone just like everyone else, so I’ve heard those rumors weeks ago."
June 27, 2022 | 4:40 pm EDT Update
Zach Klein: In talking with multiple sources around the NBA, many believe Hawks on verge of trading for San Antonio’s All-Star guard Dejounte Murray – However, it’s looking like John Collins is not part of deal. Would be Gallo & multiple 1st round picks. Spurs prepping for future & ’23 draft
June 27, 2022 | 4:15 pm EDT Update
Any potential interest the Heat has in acquiring Irving, 30, will depend on what his price is on the trade market or in free agency. The belief is the Heat is not currently willing to give up its top assets to acquire Irving — a list that obviously includes Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, and also Tyler Herro.
There are rumors floating about that Victor Oladipo is looking for a short-term contract to build his value and the Kings have been mentioned as a potential landing spot. He’s played with Sabonis in both OKC and Indiana, so there is some familiarity, but the injury risk is substantial.