The Lakers, though, appear determined to stick with Westbrook through at least the rest of the season — which means holding onto their 2027 first-round draft pick for other potential trade opportunities League sources say that the Lakers, presented with an unexpected pathway to abort their Westbrook experiment by trading the NBA’s 2017 Most Valuable Player back to the Rockets in exchange for former All-Star John Wall, are unwilling to attach the 2027 first-rounder to make the deal happen.
Yet there are also major optics concerns for the Lakers. Team officials, sources say, do not want to pay a premium to move on from Westbrook so soon after the Lakers gave up so much to get the Los Angeles native.
Barring the emergence of an expanded trade construction that involves three or more teams, or allows for a Westbrook-for-Wall exchange without including the precious draft pick, L.A.'s clear preference, sources say, is to bank on Westbrook finding another gear in the second half like he did for the Wizards last season.
Marc Spears: "I was told that they have a couple on the table, several on the table, but the only one that's really has some, you know, realistic potential to it is with the Lakers for Russ. They actually make, I don't know if it's nearly to the same dollar, but a similar salary, so you can trade them one-for-one without including anybody else. That 2027 Laker pick that you mentioned before, that first-round pick, seems to be pretty coveted, and I would expect it to be included in such a deal. But John's in Miami. He's been working out. He actually asked the Rockets for permission to be in Miami so he could be near his kids and focus on working out."
Marc Spears: "I've basically heard that there's a couple other possibilities, but they're more pie-in-the-sky possibilities, and it's not out of the realm of possibility for this one to happen. To me, I think that as of today, this is the only trade for John Wall. If it happens, and Westbrook does come back, the Rockets get somebody that at least they know.
In that same Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN’s Marc J. Spears said that John Wall is working out in Miami, away from the Rockets, as the team continues to survey his trade market. Although Houston has had some conversations about Wall, most of those scenarios are viewed as “pie in the sky,” according to Spears, who adds that the club views a swap involving Russell Westbrook as the most realistic option for Wall at this point. During his conversation with Spears, Windhorst stated that the Rockets guard isn’t interested in losing any money in a buyout agreement.
Marc J. Spears: I do think while I guess health is certainly an issue, from a basketball standpoint, I think that John Wall fits better (than Russell Westbrook). And yes, there’s a gamble, he hasn’t played, but I’m hearing he’s healthier now that he’s been in a long time, he’s certainly rested, he plays the point guard position.
I included a line in there about how the Rockets have zero interest in Westbrook actually playing for them again, but I didn't properly expound on the buyout that would be required after such a trade. Westbrook is owed $47 million next season. If the Lakers actually reached the point that they were willing to send their 2027 first-round pick to the Rockets to convince them to ship out John Wall and take Westbrook back, it is expected that Westbrook and Houston would swiftly enter buyout talks.
Buyout discussions with a player owed more than $50 million are never easy, but it is believed Houston would happily cope with that challenge if it could get the future first-rounder from the Lakers. Reason being: The Rockets, remember, are already facing the same conundrum. Wall is owed $47.4 million next season and hasn't logged one minute this season after he balked at the limited role Houston offered him.
The reality is that with two seasons remaining on his contract (and 2022-23 being a player option for more than $47 million), the pickings are slim. Houston has recently received calls from a handful of teams about potentially acquiring Wall, sources tell The Athletic, but due to the aforementioned contract constraints, rival teams continue to simply monitor the situation. One such team that had expressed genuine interest earlier in the season was the LA Clippers, sources say, but there is some confusion from an outsider’s perspective on the Clippers’ objectives heading into the deadline.
Marc Stein of Substack reported Houston’s interest in an incentive-based deal that The Athletic can confirm, but there are caveats to this. For starters, this is not a situation where Houston is interested in Westbrook. Both parties have already been down that path and are at different places respectively. The Rockets are only interested in finding a solution for Wall’s situation. Westbrook would likely never suit up for Houston in that instance. For a deal to get done, Houston would have to be enticed by an aggressive Lakers approach — one involving either a third team or suitable additional assets — to make it work. Houston would require the Lakers’ 2027 first-rounder in such a deal, sources tell The Athletic, but it’s unclear how willing the Lakers are to put that on the table.
I, like many around the league, was previously under the impression that the Rockets would have less than zero interest in a Westbrook reunion after Houston traded Westbrook to Washington for John Wall in December 2020 shortly before the start of last season. I've since learned that the Rockets — while indeed holding no interest in having Westbrook play for them again — actually would be amenable to another Westbrook-for-Wall swap if the Lakers incentivized the trade with sufficient draft compensation.
To be clear: This is not a scenario likely to materialize between now and Feb. 10 or one I would advise the Lakers to pursue so soon even after all of my criticism of the Westbrook trade in the first place. Yet sources say that the Lakers could convince Houston to take Westbrook back for Wall if they attached their 2027 first-round draft pick to the deal. The Lakers could naturally try to offer multiple second-round picks instead, but L.A.'s 2027 first-rounder is the piece rival teams naturally covet.
The 76ers don’t have interest in John Wall from the Houston Rockets. If Eric Gordon, Christian Wood and some of the team’s picks and prospects (but not Jalen Green or Alperen Sengun) aren’t enough for Philadelphia, perhaps a third team could help Houston generate a path to a Simmons deal.
Paolo Songco: Jalen Green reveals his true feelings about the John Wall trade saga in Houston ?? (via @JalenGreen on IG)
Execs don’t think Wall would make much sense on young squads. That obviously includes Houston, whose future is tied up in Green, the second pick in this year’s draft, and Porter Jr. But how many teams with guard needs are actually contenders? The number is less than 10, maybe less than five. But it’s not zero.
Wall wants to play. The truth is that's what he’s always wanted. Yet as I reported Friday, Houston came into the season privately telling Wall that it would offer him no more than a limited off-the-bench role to prioritize the young backcourt combo of Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr., and its stance hasn't changed. Wall wants to start and the Rockets are steadfast that the five-time All-Star will have to come off the bench and accept whatever slice of playing time he gets if he wants to be an active participant.
Numerous contending teams have interest in Wall as a part of a backcourt rotation, but his player option of $47 million for 2022-2023 makes it nearly impossible to incorporate him into a team.
The outcome of the conversations is that Wall will continue to sit out games while remaining professional and being around and engaged with the team, sources said. Rockets officials informed Wall in their conversations on Sunday that they were not willing to guarantee him a starting role.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: John Wall met with Rockets GM Rafael Stone and coach Stephen Silas today to discuss a possible return to play and a role on the team. No agreement yet on how that would look. Wall has wanted a chance to be a starter again.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Houston Rockets guard John Wall has expressed his hopes to the organization that he can resume playing for the team in the near future, sources tell ESPN. Story soon.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Wall and Rockets had agreed on him sitting out until a trade could be found, but the five-time All-Star guard talked to Houston general manager Rafael Stone on Friday about restarting a dialogue on a return to the active roster, sources said. Sides plan to talk again on Sunday.
Adrian Wojnarowski: For Wall to play this season, there is likely a compromise that needs to be found between respecting Wall’s stature as an All-Star on a super-max contract and Rockets’ desire to have him play a complementary role to help develop their young core.
Turns out that Wall gave his consent to the Rockets' plan to hold him out this entire season, league sources say, only after they told him that his slice of playing time in Coach Stephen Silas' rotation would be rather minimal for a five-time All-Star with Houston focused on the development of No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green and his backcourt mate Kevin Porter Jr. Beyond the Rockets’ obvious motivation to keep Wall as healthy as possible for potential trade talks, he showed enough in last season's comeback that a larger role could make them more competitive than a team in the early stages of its post-James Harden rebuild would necessarily want.
If you remember that fairly recent drama, perhaps you have wondered why league officials haven't intervened this season to compel the Houston Rockets to play John Wall in (somewhat) similar circumstances. The NBA absolutely should take that step but hasn't shown any inclination to intervene — not even with the Rockets stumbling to a woeful 1-16 start before Wednesday's upset of visiting Chicago.
But why would Wall want this? He has to know: A trade isn’t coming. Teams are interested in Wall but only if he declines his $47 million player option for next season (he won’t) or wriggles free via buyout in this one (he isn’t). Wall looked remarkably good in returning from a two-year layoff last season. His All-Star days are over, but there’s no reason why Wall, at 31, can’t regain a place among the upper half of NBA playmakers.
John Wall: Facts ‼️ RT @Realmo1_: @JohnWall @SIChrisMannix You getting punished for something you can’t control...
Chris Mannix: While the rockets look for a trade, to this point I've been told there has been zero traction on a trade for John Wall.
Chris Mannix: I was texting with a bunch of different executives this morning talking about Wall. Like what do you think the interest is like? 'Nope, not we're not interested. I mean, the guy is an injury issue and we'd be interested after the buyout, but not under his current contract.' So he is probably going to sit out the entire season.
John Wall isn’t expected to play for the Rockets this season and it doesn’t appear any teams are willing to gamble on his contract, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on tonight’s “NBA Countdown.” (Hat tip to Doric Sam of Bleacher Report) “There are no plans for John Wall to play for the Rockets, and it’s becoming increasingly likely that John Wall may not play anywhere in the NBA this season because the cost of his contract right now is just too prohibitive,” Wojnarowski said.
Kelly Iko: Stone says John Wall sacrificed a ton for the team last year. “Part of our conversations were making sure everyone ends up in a good place.”
On Tuesday, an hour or so after ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski reiterated that Simmons doesn't ever want to play for the Sixers again and is still planning on holding out, Simmons took to his Instagram story to troll Sixers fans and NBA fans alike. Amid the swirling "Simmons for John Wall?" speculation (which, no), Simmons posted an eight-second clip of himself in a gym with Wall to his account, featuring Wall yelling for Simmons to leave him alone:
ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski spoke out about the prospect of the Rockets trading John Wall. He claimed that it would be “almost impossible” for them to get it done without attaching assets that they’d rather keep. “I think trading John Wall, with two years left and over $90 million is almost impossible unless the Rockets, all of a sudden decide that they’re willing to attach a number of first round picks and I don’t see that scenario. I think he’s going to be in Houston a while unless he’s willing to take money and agree to a buyout, but he doesn’t want to do that right now.”
Sources said the original plan was for the Rockets to keep Wall around and revisit the situation in a year’s time. Wall is liked in Houston, something that has been spoken about publicly and behind closed doors. During the 2020-21 season, Wall served as a valuable ally to Silas, almost serving as an assistant coach of sorts to the first-year head coach. The two were in constant communication about everything concerning the team, from culture and environment to X’s and O’s.
If a team does trade for Wall, it will likely be as part of a salary dump with plans to waive him afterward. One team that makes sense is the Oklahoma City Thunder who are currently over the cap but have the ability to generate north of $32 million in cap space. They would just need to send back the difference between Wall’s salary and their cap space amount to absorb him. For example, they could send back Derrick Favors ($9.7 million) and another player earning $2 million for Wall.
John Wall is due $91.7 million over the next two seasons, including a player option for $47.4 million in 2022-23, a contract that makes attempting to trade him extremely difficult. Sources said the Rockets do not want to give up first-round draft compensation in a Wall trade and would not have interest in discussing a buyout until possibly after free agency next summer.
Wall, a former No. 1 overall pick, is expected to participate in training camp and to be around the team while he remains on the Rockets' roster, sources said. Houston management is optimistic that Wall's wisdom and leadership can in particular benefit Porter and Green, who join center Christian Wood, 25, as the cornerstones of the Rockets' rebuild.
Sources said Wall's relationship with Rockets ownership and management remains strong, as Wall and the Rockets have been in frequent communication throughout the offseason. High-ranking Rockets sources expressed deep appreciation for Wall's leadership throughout a tumultuous campaign last season, when James Harden's trade demand pushed Houston into rebuilding mode and a rash of injuries factored into the Rockets finishing with the NBA's worst record. "He's been a rock for us," a Rockets source said. "He's been great since he got here."
Mark Berman: NBA sources confirm @Shams Charania report that the Rockets and John Wall are mutually working together to find a better fit for him. Sources say John Wall has not asked to be traded. According to sources the five-time All-Star simply isn’t part of the Rockets long-term plans.
After meeting and seeing eye-to-eye on the direction of the Houston Rockets, the franchise and John Wall have agreed on working together to find a new home for the five-time All-Star guard, sources tell The Athletic. The plan is for Wall to remain present around the Rockets entering training camp, which begins late this month, and to not play in games for Houston this season, sources said.
In a meeting between Wall and the Rockets recently, Houston officials explained to Wall the direction of the franchise and that the team wants to protect the veteran guard’s health. The Rockets explained that the team does not want to jeopardize Wall’s fitness, and the sides agreed on the route that won’t complicate his ability to continue playing at a high level. Sources said there are no buyout plans on the two years and $91.7 million remaining on Wall’s contract — including a $47.4 million player option for the 2022-23 season.
Of the two veteran guards, MacMahon sees Gordon, who is owed $37.8 million over the next two seasons, as much more likely to be moved by the Rockets at some point during the upcoming season. With Wall, who is due $91.7 million, the logistics are far more complicated. Tim MacMahon: “The last year (of Gordon’s deal), there’s no guaranteed money. I think Gordon is getting traded at some point. But John Wall, every minute that he plays … you’re wasting time.”
Kind of sounds like you want him to stick around for this rebuild. Is that fair to say? Rafael Stone: I think with all the guys that we ended the year with, we like them as people, we like them as players. It was a uniquely challenging year, and we rotated through just a million players. We just took what felt like injury after injury after injury. We had a really tough year, but we didn’t end the year with a group that we didn’t like; we like the players on our roster. Practically speaking, NBA teams turn over — you’re not going to bring back the exact same team that you had the year before, whether because you’re adding people through the draft or free agency or whatever. And so that applies to every team, not just ours. But what we really like is our guys, and we’re certainly not trying to not have any of them back. All of them contribute in positive ways, both on and off the court. And so, if they’re not going to be around, we need to bring in somebody who is impressive and is positive.
Those are big enough that the Heat can likely satisfy the league’s salary-matching rules should they bring in a high-salaried star. John Wall and Kyle Lowry are potential targets.
The consensus of TrueHoop sources is that the eight games between the All-Star break and the trade deadline will mean a lot in assessing how good the Heat are,” Haberstroh wrote. “They play the Magic twice, Bulls, Cavs, Grizzlies, Pacers twice, and Suns. If the Heat decide to make a deal, rival executives wonder if a package centered on Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, and Rising Star rookie Precious Achiuwa could net another star. Heat brass have shrewdly signed Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard to mid-tier contracts ($12.6 and $9.4 million respectively). Those are big enough that the Heat can likely satisfy the league’s salary-matching rules should they bring in a high-salaried star. John Wall and Kyle Lowry are potential targets.
However, the two sides were able to get a deal done Wednesday night and some of the credit can go to Westbrook's agent Thad Foucher. "The two general managers hadn't talked in weeks, but Russell Westbrook's agent Thad Foucher really got them back, got them talking to day and within a few hours, they had a deal," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski told Scott Van Pelt.
Wall became disgruntled about his future in Washington as soon as trade conversations became public, league sources say. But the market for his services was even more muted than it was for Westbrook; any team that had even mild interest in acquiring him also wanted multiple draft picks as compensation, according to sources.
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.
May 21, 2022 | 6:24 am EDT Update
The Lakers may be willing to take that leap of faith because Ham spent two years with the organization. His personality isn’t easily forgotten. Ham brings a lot of energy to a gym. He’s arguably the best fit for the locker room, with veterans like LeBron James, Anthony Davis and possibly Russell Westbrook in need of a coach they can relate to and respect. “He’s the guy LeBron wants,” a competing source said. It will be up to Ham to spell out his basketball vision, in general and in context to the Lakers’ roster makeup. He could be the hire if he can sell that side to the team’s front office.
Stotts may be the opposite of Vogel, a high-level defensive coach with a limited offensive repertoire. If Stotts is the hire, the Lakers should pair him with a high-level lead defensive assistant. Some sources wondered if Stotts would struggle, like Vogel, to command the locker room’s respect, although he worked well with Lillard for a long stretch.
He also has a reputation for being a bit headstrong or rigid in personality. He’s going to demand respect, but he’s going to need to clarify precisely why he and the Nets divorced in-season. Is he the right coach for star players with strong personalities like James? Atkinson may have the most outside-the-box style of the three finalists. Per a competing source, he’s similar to Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, willing to experiment with unconventional strategies to win by whatever means necessary.
Donatas Urbonas: Vasilije Micic on the possibility to go to the NBA next season: “I’m in a situation where I have two more years of the contract no matter what happens. But of course, I like to look at all kinds of challenges. If this option comes out, I would be ready to risk.”
The Warriors came back from a 19-point deficit to beat the Dallas Mavericks 126-117 in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals. The Warriors now have a 2-0 advantage in the series. The first two quarters of the game were owned by the Mavericks. They hit 15 3-pointers in the first half, setting a new franchise record for 3s made in a playoff half. Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson became the second pair of starting guards to each score 20 points in the first half of a playoff game in the past 25 seasons. “I told them that if we developed some poise in the second half, the game would come to us,” Kerr said. “But I thought we were so scattered in the first half. Maybe emotionally more so than anything. Dallas came out and just punched us. We felt confident that if we [got poised], they wouldn’t make 15 3s in the second half.”
On defense, Looney held the Mavericks to 1-of-11 shooting from the field as the primary defender, including holding Doncic to 0-of-3. He also grabbed 12 rebounds. Looney is accustomed to being switched onto guards like Doncic. During the Warriors’ dynastic runs, he was switched onto James Harden when Golden State faced Houston multiple times during the postseason. “I take kind of the same approach,” Looney said. “I’m just a little bit more battle-tested. That was my first time playing on a big stage like this. I don’t know if even my teammates had the most faith in me, but they put me out there and I handled it pretty well.
Clutch Points: The Golden State Warriors are 14-1 in playoff series under Steve Kerr when they take a 2-0 lead. Their lone series loss came vs. the Cavs in the 2016 NBA Finals. pic.twitter.com/f4Yq6h6zoN