The Wizards are said to be open to discussing deals involving any player on their roster, but league-wide trade interest in star point guard John Wall is “close to nonexistent,” sources tell ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider-only link). As Marks details, Wall’s super-max extension, which goes into effect next season and runs through 2022/23, has substantially diminished the 28-year-old’s value around the NBA.
“Every player in this league can be traded, but the Wall extension right now is the toughest contract I have seen a team try to move in 20 years,” one club executive told Marks. “I couldn’t look my owner in the eye and tell him there is value with the player even if we didn’t have to trade anything of significance.”
While most teams don’t have interest in acquiring Wall, clubs are still trying to figure out how his 15% trade bonus would work if he were moved this season, says Marks. Wall’s trade kicker should pay him a bonus worth 15% of the remaining salary on his contract if he’s dealt; that bonus money would typically be dispersed evenly across the remaining non-option years of the deal.
However, a trade bonus can’t increase a player’s cap hit beyond his maximum salary — Wall’s salary for 2018/19 is well below his current maximum, but he’ll start earning his max in 2019/20, which complicates how his trade bonus could be spread out across multiple years. It’s an unprecedented situation that the NBA and the players’ union didn’t anticipate.
According to Marks, if Wall were traded this season, his 15% trade kicker may just apply to his current-year salary, rather than taking his extension into account. So he’d get an extra $2MM+ this season without impacting his future cap charges.
Still, that discussion may be moot — any in-season trade involving Wall seems like a long shot, given all the future money owed to him. And even next summer, once the confusion surrounding his trade bonus clears up, the point guard likely won’t be any easier to move.
According to Marks, the consensus among team executives he spoke to was that there was no way they’d sign Wall to a four-year, $171MM contract this offseason, which is what his extension will amount to. As Marks explains, execs have – for the most part – learned their lesson about overpaying borderline stars into their 30s and will be more cautious going forward, limiting the appeal of a highly-paid player like Wall.