NBA Rumor: John Wall Trade?

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Pacers expressed interest in John Wall

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Talks between Lakers, Rockets on Russell Westbrook-John Wall trade never gained serious traction

That impasse prompted the Rockets to inquire about a trade deadline swap for Russell Westbrook, with the belief that Westbrook would be more amenable to negotiating a buyout. But those February conversations between Houston and the Los Angeles Lakers never gained serious traction, sources told B/R. The Rockets sought a future Lakers first-rounder, which was a non-starter for L.A.’s front office. It still seems unlikely that such a deal framework will ever cross the finish line.

The Lakers gain the ability to trade an additional future first-round pick in 2029 in July after having only the 2027 first to shop at the deadline, which increases their optionality with Houston or any other potential trade partner. It’s also conceivable that the Rockets, plenty weary of their own saga with Wall, could lessen their demands (two second-rounders?) as both Wall and Westbrook enter the final year of their current contracts. Unless the Rockets think they can trade Wall elsewhere, these discussions are bound to be renewed.

John Wall would welcome return to Washington

If it can plausibly be argued that the Lakers would benefit by getting Wall from Houston for Russell Westbrook, a potential trade rumored to have been discussed before the trade deadline, why wouldn’t the Wizards also improve by re-emigrating their former five-time All-Star? Wall would welcome a return to the team that took him with the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft. It’s something he recently discussed with people close to him and around the league. “That … is true,” one NBA source said Tuesday.

Bradley Beal would be open to reunion with John Wall

I’m told Beal, though not overtly advocating a Wall return, wouldn’t dismiss a potential reunion out of hand. Washington’s ability to unload Dāvis Bertāns’ salary to Dallas buoyed his faith in the Wizards front office’s ability to make impactful trades, including the one that brought Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to D.C. for Westbrook. Now, though, team president Tommy Sheppard is on the clock to add a floor general who could complement Beal, Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis.

Rich Paul says Klutch wasn't pushing for Russell Westbrook trade

By Monday morning, Paul had spoken to Stephen A. Smith of ESPN, with the latter of whom saying on “First Take” that the super agent wanted to deny one specific part of that report (emphasis mine): “Rich Paul called me yesterday and asked me to quote him on this story about him, and Klutch Sports, and essentially them wanting the Lakers to trade Russell Westbrook and a first-round pick to Houston for John Wall. He wanted me to state emphatically that there was absolutely, positively no truth to that whatsoever. He never did that. He did not do that. The people who wrote the story never contacted him to get any kind of perspective from him on that. “It is an absolute lie, and he said ‘could you please do me a favor and quote me and tell the world that I specifically said that’s a damn lie. There is no truth. It never happened.’ Just for what it’s worth, that’s what Rich Paul says about these stories that have been put out there. Fair enough. So I quoted him.”

It was previously reported that Houston wanted the Lakers 2027 first-round pick in exchange for taking on Westbrook’s contract. ESPN’s Ramona Shelbourne reported on an episode of the Hoop Collective that was not the case at the deadline. “The way I heard it was, it could’ve been done for a first round pick, but then, it was even suggested they could have done it for a pick swap. I don’t know the details of what that swap would be like or how it would even work.”

The Lakers were resistant to offering their 2027 first-round pick — the only one they can offer — in trade talks, including as the carrot in a potential exchange of John Wall and Russell Westbrook, sources say. A deal I’d have pitched: Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker and that 2027 first-rounder for Wall and Eric Gordon. Does that change your life? Maybe not. But LeBron is 37, and this team looks broken. Maybe a better deal will come along in the offseason.

Lakers not adding first-round pick in a Russell Westbrook-John Wall trade

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.

Only realistic Russell Westbrook trade is to Rockets for John Wall?

John Wall working out in Miami

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.

Rockets not interested in Russell Westbrook playing for them

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.

Clippers had interest in John Wall

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.

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.

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.

Teams interested in John Wall trade only if he declines player option

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 to sit out 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.

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:

Woj: John Wall almost impossible to trade

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.

Thunder could be an option for John Wall

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.

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.”

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.

John Wall, Kyle Lowry potential trade targets for Heat?

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.”
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