Amidst a flurry of NFL news and analysis this week, Shams Charania slipped in a breaking news report from the NBA. The Houston Rockets are trying to find a new team for John Wall, and Wall will not play until they do.
It is going to be a while, though. This is a weird time in the offseason to trade anybody since free agency and the draft have both happened. It doesn't help that Wall has a massive contract and salary, with two years remaining on a $171 million deal that will pay him $44 million this year and $47 million the next. He's coming off a decent season, all things considered; Wall averaged 20.6 points and 6.9 assists on 40 percent shooting from the floor in his first year seeing action after tearing his Achilles.
The production does not match the salary. Both sides seem content to sit and wait until some team is willing to bite, though. Houston doesn't want to let him leave for nothing and Wall probably doesn't want to give back any money on his contract, eliminating the buyout option for now.
Where might Wall end up? Here are four possible options.
One year after these two teams failed to agree on a blockbuster deal for James Harden, Daryl Morey is back at the negotiating table with his protégé Rafael Stone. Is Wall a good fit in Philly? Not really. He can't shoot at a high level (31 percent last year) and needs the ball in his hands to play well. But he can shoot better than Ben Simmons, who also needs the ball in his hands to play well and is currently very displeased with the Sixers' front office.
If the rumors of what Morey is asking for Simmons are even somewhat true, there's no chance Philly settles for a Wall/Simmons swap straight-up. They just might not have a choice. If the Simmons situation carries over into training camp, it may very well be in the organization's best interests to get him the hell out of there and be happy with that. Simmons is definitely the best player Houston could get for Wall and fits with their timeline, while Philadelphia gets a better fit around Embiid and is off Wall's contract in two years. It isn't a likely scenario, but Simmons is the only big contract on the trade block right now to make a trade easy.
The Mavs' inspiration to trade for Wall is similar to Philly's above. Wall is not a perfect fit next to Luka Doncic, but he can take the ball out of his hands in pursuit of preserving the generational superstar during the regular season and help run the second unit. Jason Kidd could be the right man to get the most out of Wall.
In exchange, Dallas would send off Kristaps Porzingis. Porzingis isn't bad but he certainly isn't worth the $30 million-plus he'll be earning each of the next three years. Wall's deal expires one year earlier than Porzingis', so the Mavs clear up their books one season earlier than they would right now. It is a lateral move at best in terms of the on-court product, and Houston may need some convincing to take on the Porzingis deal. But Mark Cuban always has free agency on his mind, and this is one of the few surefire moves that ensures they aren't stuck paying a subpar player huge money for more than two seasons.
The most boring swap of them all, the Cavaliers could trade Kevin Love for Wall's services. Houston would be interested because Love's deal is expiring. The Cavs get a veteran point guard to play the steady hand on a very young team. Everyone wins!
Except Wall, who would go from playing for one bad team to playing for another. But at least the Cavs are attempting to win. Maybe Cleveland decides they don't want to lose Collin Sexton for nothing and getting a year and a half of Wall is better than that alternative. Who knows. With a deal this big on the market at this time of year, we're all grasping for straws a little.
New York Knicks
Everybody's favorite big-name destination! If the Knicks wanted to trade for Wall, they'd have to wait until halfway through the season in order to utilize the various mid-size contracts they signed during free agency this offseason. They would only be inspired to do that in two instances: if their point guard depth suddenly disappears because of injury or regression, or if Tom Thibodeau believes he's the one piece they need to seriously contend.
Are either of those two scenarios likely? Not particularly. This iteration of the Knicks' front office seems smarter than that. But you can't count them out. Wall is, if anything, exactly what the Knicks need to become a complete team: a pure point guard. Elfrid Payton was the bane of every fan's existence trying to fill that role last year, Immanuel Quickley is a scorer before anything, and Kemba Walker can't run an offense like Wall can. It's a long shot, but if Houston is willing to eat some of the salary, a deal could be reached.