Storyline: John Wall Trade?

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2 weeks ago via ESPN

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.

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.”

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.”

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.”

Word is the Wolves did try to engage Washington — another team falling well short of expectations — in trade talks for the sharpshooting guard Bradley Beal. But the Wizards have kept Beal off limits amid their 4-9 start. They would naturally prefer to trade the struggling Otto Porter, or perhaps even John Wall, but both possess hard-to-move contracts. My pal Zach Lowe at ESPN recently did a deep dive on just how hard Wall will be to trade once his “supermax” contract extension kicks in next season.

Granted, the money will make any negotiations complex. If there is a Wall suitor that makes sense, it’s the Miami Heat, who need an injection of star talent, and are financially saddled entering next summer’s potentially starry free agency period. Stuck with Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson through 2020, the Heat are in a position to take a risk and inject some energy into a roster replete with tough players, but lacking in ceiling. It was a poorly-kept secret that the Heat were part of the preseason sweepstakes for Jimmy Butler, which ended over the weekend as the Timberwolves dealt him to the 76ers. That move served to beef up an established Eastern Conference hierarchy that includes neither Miami nor Washington—a Wall trade between the two teams would be more about shaping plans for the future.

Wall already spends a large chunk of his summers living in Miami. There is ongoing chatter that his partying habit has become an issue, which he’s addressed publicly. But the Heat have long held a firm organizational belief in their ability to get the most out of their players, with a focus on conditioning and discipline and a track record of rehabilitating careers. It would still be a serious long-term financial risk for the Heat, but if nothing else it’s a fresh approach to rejiggering a team that has grown somewhat stagnant, and clearly fallen short of its intended ceiling.
1 month ago via ESPN

A Wall deal before July 1 is unlikely in part due to complexities surrounding his 15 percent trade kicker — believed to be the first trade kicker that would be spread over the length of a supermax contract. Trade kickers cannot lift a player’s salary above his maximum in the year he is traded, meaning Wall’s payout could shrink if the Wizards trade him in 2019-20 once he shifts onto his supermax deal — and perhaps close to $0 in that 2019-20 season, sources say.
1 month ago via ESPN

If they trade him before then, they might owe him a giant lump sum, sources say. (Wall’s 2018-19 salary of $19.2 million is well below his eligible maximum because he signed his current deal under a lower salary-cap figure.) None of this is 100 percent clear in the collective bargaining agreement, and it will need to be studied further if it proves relevant. Rises in salary cap at some point during the length of Wall’s supermax could trigger further trade kicker payments to him. We might be down to one plausible candidate to send Washington real value for Wall at some point over the next year-plus: Phoenix, run by an impatient owner, Robert Sarver, without a seasoned GM to check his most dangerous impulses.

Most, if not all, NBA talent scouts, would have Wall, based on ability and potential, rated significantly ahead of Dragic, and it’s not as if the Heat are in any position to throw in draft picks to sweeten such a deal, with a pair of first-rounders still owed for Dragic. But the Wall possibilities do appear to grow more interesting by the day, particularly at moments of venting. The Heat’s next home game is against the Wizards, on Monday night, so perhaps we’ll see if there is a welcome wagon in place.
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