It was quite a surprise when Shams Charania reported a few weeks back that the Washington Wizards were interested in swapping longtime franchise point guard John Wall for Russell Westbrook. Wall and Westbrook are on equally monstrous contracts that will pay both over $40 million each next season. Wall hasn't seen the court since December 2018 after tearing his Achilles, while Westbrook wants out of Houston.
It would have been a weird trade for both sides; the Wizards should be focused on keeping Bradley Beal happy, and trading his good friend John wouldn't accomplish that, while the Rockets would take on arguably the worst contract in the NBA considering how unlikely it is Wall will return as a player worthy of a max contract after two full years off the court. There hasn't been any more traction there, but perhaps as a result of the rumors, Charania reported last night that Wall wants out.
It is going to be very difficult to accomplish that. Wall will count for $40 million-plus on any team's cap sheet for the next three years. Before he went down with his Achilles injury, he was averaging 20.7 points and 8.7 assists per game, which is not exactly worth $40 million. It would be a big win if he came back averaging anywhere near those numbers, and there should not be any expectation that he could supersede those numbers next season. He might never get back there. But there might be a team willing to eat that contract in exchange for a player like Wall. Here are four possible teams.
The first and only team thus far to be linked to Wall, it's unclear exactly why Houston wants to do this. Rumors around town suggest owner Tillman Fertitta is hellbent on getting under the luxury tax this season, and Wall's contract is basically the exact same as Westbrook's. He's a similar ball-dominant guard who has never played off the ball in his career, and it feels unlikely he'd mesh well with James Harden's playstyle. It would be a fresh start, sure, and the Wizards have a better chance at the playoffs with Westbrook than Wall, but still kind of tough to see this happening. Still can't count them out, though.
New York Knicks
The Knicks of old would have been at the top of the list for Wall. The Knicks under the new management of Leon Rose and World Wide Wes do not seem nearly as inclined to blow a bunch of cap space on a 31-year-old guard coming off an Achilles tear. However! They are still the Knicks run by James Dolan and you can't count them out. They jettisoned most of their bad contracts already, but if a third team got involved to match salary, the Knicks would have the space to take on Wall's substantial deal. He'd be under no pressure to return to his old form and can mentor the young'ins who make up the future of the franchise. If New York is fine sacrificing cap space over the next few years for a potential reclamation project, they could get it done.
This is straight-up unlikely because trading for John Wall is not what Daryl Morey would do and he's in charge now. But all it would take to match salaries is Tobias Harris and newly-acquired Terrance Ferguson. Wall would give the Sixers a ballhandler to run pick and roll with both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. He can shoot well enough to space the floor off the ball when Simmons is running the offense. He's actually a solid fit with this team if he even returns to 75 percent of himself, but that contract is just so gigantic. If this were to happen, it feels more likely that Morey would wait to see what Wall looked like back on the court before pulling the trigger.