The Washington Wizards have not won much since 1979, when they were the defending champions and only one win short from having back-to-back titles. In fact, they haven’t returned to the conference finals since.
The franchise may continue extending that ugly drought as they could be losing five-time All-Star John Wall soon.
It was reported earlier this week that the Wizards were discussing a trade that would send Wall to the Houston Rockets for Russell Westbrook, another star point guard. Though the talks eventually went nowhere, it has led to Wall allegedly demanding a trade.
While the Wizards ultimately prefer to keep Wall and their other All-Star guard, Bradley Beal, together, we really can’t expect the team’s front office to be very hesitant in trading away their floor general.
Wall, as you know, has had a history of injuries and is currently fresh-off nursing a ruptured Achilles, which he suffered in January 2019 and caused him to miss the entire 2019-20 season. Also, he still has three years and $162.5M left in his contract, clearly a salary cap-killing deal that most GMs are always staying away from.
Then again, the NBA is a very competitive league, and you can find desperate GMs whose team is on a win-now mode every day. There’s a good chance they’d be willing to inhale Wall’s salary.
Let’s name some of those squads and quickly discuss why they may pull the trigger:
New York Knicks
The Knicks have been the league’s laughing stock for more than a decade and would want nothing more than to bring back relevancy into the franchise.
Wall will provide leadership and address a need in the point guard position. He also has a moxie that may fit with Thibs. Assuming it’s RJ Barrett, rookie Obi Toppin, and maybe Mitchell Robinson who gets left off from the potential trade, they’re likely to benefit from Wall’s playmaking abilities.
The Sixers are one of the serious playoff contenders that are certainly in a win-now mode, hence the many changes in the front office and the hiring of a new coach in Doc Rivers. They have had rough playoff exits in each of the last three seasons despite having All-Star big man Joel Embiid and giant two-way point forward Ben Simmons.
Adding Wall will solidify the point guard position and would ease pressure off of Simmons to facilitate, which may allow him to attack more (or possibly develop a jump shot). The need for Embiid to sweat every single point may be gone as well – what’s better is he’ll have an extra playmaker.
One of the Clippers’ weakness was heavily exposed in that embarrassing 2020 playoff elimination: they don’t have a true point guard. Now is the time to fill that void, and Wall has the skillset and firepower to play that role.
The Clipps may do this trade if it’s there because know how ugly it will be if they fail to win again. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will likely leave and they’ll have no draft picks to build off on.
The Bulls are quietly building quite the core in Zach Lavine, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter, Coby White, and rookie Patrick Williams. Lavine is a rising and high-scoring guard, while the others are youngsters that appear to fit each other.
Plugging Wall into the roster will add explosiveness, firepower, and help in distributing the ball better into the young guns. He may also help White develop faster as a PG.
The Magic have been searching for a point guard for years. They’re a subpar playoff team over the last two seasons without a real threat at the position, so it feels like it’s one of the pieces they’re missing to get to the next level.
They’ve addressed it by trading for former top overall pick Markelle Fultz in 2019 and drafting Cole Anthony during Friday’s draft.
Anthony is very promising and they ought to keep him if possible. Fultz, however, doesn’t have a lot of upside in such a roster, and it shouldn’t hurt much if they move him for someone like Wall.
Wall is a speedster that will push the pace and provide a consistent scoring punch, something that’s usually absent in the Magic’s lethargic offense.