John Wall

Community Shootaround: Who Gets Traded First, John Wall Or Ben Simmons?

Sixers star Ben Simmons has been in the NBA’s oddest situation all summer, but Rockets guard John Wall may have surpassed him this week.

Wall and Houston management have reportedly reached an agreement to work together to find him a new team, and he won’t play in any games until that happens. Wall will report to training camp and will remain around the team, but there are no plans for him to have any on-court action. Wall reportedly hasn’t asked for a trade, but at age 31 and with his history of injuries, he’s not in the long-term plans for the rebuilding Rockets.

The major impediment to dealing Wall is his contract, which will pay him $44.3MM this season, with a $47.4MM player option for 2022/23. Wall could theoretically make himself more tradable by agreeing to turn down the option in hopes of working out a long-term contract with his new team, just as Chris Paul did with the Suns.

Also limiting the market for Wall is his sparse playing time over the past three seasons, brought on by heel surgery and a ruptured Achilles tendon. He managed to play 40 games last season, averaging 20.7 points and 8.7 assists in 32.2 minutes per night, but wasn’t ever used in both games of back-to-back situations and was shut down in late April with a hamstring injury.

The Rockets are reportedly unwilling to part with multiple first-round picks as an incentive for a team to take Wall and are reluctant to take on unwanted long-term salaries, which further limits their options for finding a trade partner.

Simmons, of course, has been the subject of trade rumors since his baffling performance in the playoff loss to Atlanta. He took offense to comments made by coach Doc Rivers after the conclusion of that series and has threatened to hold out of training camp if the team doesn’t trade him by then.

The Kings, Timberwolves and Warriors have been among the teams most prominently mentioned as potential landing spots for Simmons, but sources say Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has set a very steep asking price. Simmons is reportedly “in step” with Philadelphia’s efforts to move him, but has expressed a desire to go to the Lakers, Clippers or Warriors rather than a rebuilding organization.

Numerous reporters have expressed doubt about whether Wall or Simmons will be traded any time soon, but we want your opinion. Which of these players do you expect to wind up with a new team first? Please leave your answer in the comments section.

John Wall Situation May Not Be Resolved Anytime Soon

The Rockets reportedly intend to hold John Wall out of games until they can find a new home for him, which suggests the team is hopeful that there’s a deal to be made in the not-so-distant future. However, a number of NBA reporters aren’t so sure that the Wall situation will be resolved anytime soon.

Appearing on ESPN (video link; hat tip to Clutch Points), Adrian Wojnarowski said he believes trading Wall will be “almost impossible” unless Houston is willing to attach multiple first-round picks, which the team has resisted thus far. Wojnarowski adds that he thinks Wall will be in Houston for “a while” unless the point guard becomes receptive to giving up a significant amount of salary in a buyout.

On the latest episode of his Lowe Post podcast, ESPN’s Zach Lowe also expressed skepticism that there’s a deal out there for Wall and his oversized contract (two years, $91.7MM). Lowe told fellow ESPN reporter Tim MacMahon that he expects we’ll be waiting a long time for a resolution, with an eventual buyout representing the most likely outcome.

“I think it’s, ‘Hurry up and wait until next summer,'” MacMahon responded, per RealGM. “I think that’s what ends up happening.”

These reports are hardly surprising. Wall’s $44.3MM cap hit for the 2021/22 season is difficult to match for most teams, especially since newly-signed contracts can’t be moved right away in trades. And the clubs that are in position to package two or three players to match Wall’s salary may not want to give up those players for a former All-Star who has been slowed by injuries in recent years and didn’t look quite like his old self in 2020/21.

If the situation does drag out for months, it will be interesting to see whether the Rockets reconsider their stance of having Wall sit out games for the entire 2021/22 season. While that may be the safe approach to keep him healthy, the 31-year-old could perhaps boost his trade value a little if he returns to the court and proves he can still be productive.

Latest On John Wall

The John Wall situation in Houston is nothing like the problem the team dealt with a year ago when James Harden forced his way out of town, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Whereas Harden had become frustrated with the organization and did all he could to be moved, Wall is comfortable in Houston and was viewed as a “valuable ally” to first-year head coach Stephen Silas last season, according to Iko.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN conveys a similar sentiment, writing that Wall’s relationship with team management and ownership is still strong, as all parties have remained in frequent contact throughout the offseason. Rockets sources told MacMahon that the club valued Wall’s leadership during the tumultuous Harden-related drama a year ago.

“(Wall’s) been a rock for us,” one source told ESPN. “He’s been great since he got here.”

Still, with Wall preferring the opportunity to compete for the playoffs and for a championship, and the Rockets focused on carving out enough playing time for all their young players, the two sides are no longer a great match, which is why they’ve mutually agreed to try to find Wall a new home. Rockets sources told MacMahon that the franchise wants to “do right” by its veteran players, as it did last season by sending Harden and P.J. Tucker to title contenders.

Here’s more on Wall and the Rockets:

  • Sam Amick and David Aldridge of The Athletic take a closer look at which teams might be potential fits for Wall and whether his contract (worth $91.7MM over the next two years) will prevent Houston from finding a taker. Neither Amick nor Aldridge could identify any obvious trade partners.
  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype wonders if the Thunder might be the best fit for Wall, since they’re the only team that could realistically take on his $44MM+ salary without sending out a ton of salary in return. However, the Rockets reportedly don’t want to give up first-round picks to move Wall, and Oklahoma City would likely require significant draft capital to seriously consider a deal.
  • In an Instagram video, Bobby Marks of ESPN runs through a few possible Wall suitors, explaining why it would be challenging for each of them to put together the $35MM+ in salaries needed to match Wall’s $44MM+ cap hit. As Marks points out, it will be even more difficult once the regular season begins and teams are only permitted to carry 15 players on standard contracts, since matching Wall’s salary may require a three- or four-for one structure, which would require Houston to waive multiple players.

Rockets, John Wall Agree To Hold Him Out Of Games, Seek Trade

2:42pm: The Rockets don’t want to give up any first-round picks in a Wall trade, according to MacMahon. Realistically, the only way for Houston to avoid attaching a first-rounder would be to take back one or two unwanted contracts in the deal.

MacMahon adds that the Rockets wouldn’t want to engage in buyout talks until possibly the 2022 offseason.

12:31pm: The Rockets and John Wall have agreed to work together to try to find a new home for the veteran point guard, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic. Wall didn’t explicitly ask to be traded, but he isn’t part of Houston’s long-term plans, tweets Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston.

As Charania explains, the Rockets’ intention is for Wall to remain around the team, starting with training camp in two weeks, but he won’t play in games for Houston this season.

In a recent meeting between the two sides, team officials explained to Wall that they want to protect his health and avoid jeopardizing his fitness, which led them to agree to this plan, according to Charania, who adds that the club and the 31-year-old see “eye-to-eye” on the issue. As long as he remains around the team, the Rockets believe Wall’s veteran leadership will have a positive impact on youngsters like Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr., per Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link).

Sources tell Charania that the Rockets aren’t looking to negotiate a buyout of the two years and $91.7MM left on Wall’s contract, and are focused for now on finding a deal on the trade market. Given Wall’s pricey cap hits ($44.3MM this season, with a $47.4MM player option for 2022/23) and his injury history, he has negative trade value, so Houston would almost certainly have to attach assets to find a taker.

It’s unclear how much appetite the rebuilding Rockets will have to surrender future draft picks in order to move Wall. Even though they landed several first-rounders and pick swaps in last season’s James Harden trade, they don’t have a huge surplus of future selections, having previously sent out a pair of future first-rounders in their deal for Russell Westbrook.

Wall’s trade value should at least be a little higher than it was a year ago, when he was coming off a 2019/20 season fully lost to an Achilles injury. In 2020/21, he appeared in 40 games for the Rockets (32.2 MPG), averaging 20.6 PPG, 6.9 APG, and 3.2 RPG, albeit with a modest .404/.317/.749 shooting line.

As they explore their trade options for Wall, the Rockets will have to lean more heavily on Porter and D.J. Augustin. Charania indicates the team has also held discussions with free agent point guards in recent days, suggesting another player could be added to the mix at the position.

The Rockets currently have a full 20-man offseason roster, but only 14 of those players are on fully guaranteed standard contracts, so they could open up the final spot on their 15-man regular season roster for a point guard, if they so choose.

And-Ones: Bosh, Mike James, Sharpe, Tough Contracts

Former Raptors and Heat All-Star big man Chris Bosh had to retire earlier than anticipated at age 33, having not played since he was 31 due to a scary blood clot issue. The 6’11” center/power forward may have interest in eventually pursuing a coaching or NBA front office career, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

“I don’t want to put any closure on it,” the 37-year-old Bosh said about a possible coaching gig. “Some sort of front-office or coaching position, I don’t want to throw dirt on it and say, ‘that’s it (and I won’t pursue it).'”

Bosh will be enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend as a player, after 11 All-Star appearances, one All-NBA Second Team honor, four Finals appearances and two titles. He holds career averages of 19.2 PPG, 8.5 RPG, and 2.0 APG.

There’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Recent Nets reserve point guard Mike James has left Russian basketball club CSKA Moscow, per Dario Skerletic of Sportando. James now re-enters the NBA free agency pool. The 6’1″ guard previously began the 2020/21 season with CSKA Moscow, averaging 19.3 PPG and 5.7 across 27 games of Euroleague play. The 31-year-old vet eventually latched on with the Nets, averaging 7.7 PPG and 4.1 APG across 13 regular season contests, before seeing his role diminished in the playoffs. James had been under contract with CSKA Moscow through 2023, but had managed to carve out time to join the Nets at the end of the 2020/21 season with the club’s blessing. Now, he is a wholly unrestricted free agent.
  • Top high school prospect Shaedon Sharpe, the No. 1-ranked overall prospect in the class of 2022, has committed to suiting up for coach John Calipari in Kentucky, per Jonathan Givony of ESPN“Coach Cal took the time to understand who I was as a person and how to get the best out of me,” Sharpe said. “I can see that he does a great job of working with athletes of my position and playing style and getting them to be the best versions of themselves. His experience is a large part of why I chose UK, but he believed in the vision and goals that I had for myself as well.” The addition of Sharpe marks Calipari’s first top-five recruit since he added now-Heat star big man Bam Adebayo in 2016. During Calipari’s 12 seasons at Kentucky, he has seen 43 of his players selected in the NBA draft, including 21 in the lottery. Sharpe also reportedly considered joining the G League Ignite, Arizona, Kansas and Oklahoma State before making his decision.
  • Several players throughout the NBA remain inked to unwieldy contracts relative to their output or health. Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype assesses the toughest deals to flip in the league ahead of the 2021/22 season. Rockets point guard John Wall, owed $91.7MM over the next two years, tops Gozlan’s list for the second straight season. Gozlan speculates that the 31-year-old former All-Star could be headed for a buyout with Houston soon. 33-year-old Cavaliers forward/center Kevin Love, owed $60.2MM over the next two seasons as Cleveland’s fourth-best big man, and 31-year-old maximum-salaried Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson, who has missed the last two seasons with an ACL tear (in 2019/20) and an Achilles tear (in 2020/21), are two of the more predictable names on the list. A few 2021 free agency signings and extensions make the cut, including the contracts of Bulls small forward DeMar DeRozan and Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen.

Rockets Notes: Green, Sengun, Wall, Weaver

The Rockets liked what they saw from Jalen Green in Summer League play, and their excitement goes beyond his statistics, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. The No. 2 overall pick averaged 20.3 PPG and shot 51.4% from the floor (52.6% from three-point range) in his first two games before getting shut down after reporting hamstring tightness midway through the third game.

Coaches were impressed by Green’s decision making when the Pistons threw traps at him after he crossed half court. Green made the right reads and got the ball where it was supposed to go, rather than focusing on a one-on-one battle with No. 1 selection Cade Cunningham.

“It’s exciting to see him up and close and personal in a Rockets uniform,” coach Stephen Silas said. “Jalen out there making exciting plays but doing it within the context of how we do things.”

There’s more from Houston:

  • All four of the Rockets’ first-round picks looked like legitimate prospects during their first Summer League experience, Feigen adds. Usman Garuba and Josh Christopher may be sent to the G League to get playing time, but Alperen Sengun appears ready to contribute with the NBA team. Feigen notes that Sengun, the MVP of the Turkish League last season, displayed an advanced understanding of the game in Las Vegas.
  • The youth movement in Houston raises questions about the future of John Wall, who will be 31 when the season begins, per Rahat Huq of The Houston Chronicle. Wall had a 31.6 usage percentage last season and figures to have a similar role as long as he remains with the team. There has been speculation of a possible buyout with Wall, who will make $44.3MM this year and has a $47.4MM player option for 2022/23, but the organization’s best move may be to rebuild his value and try to trade him next summer.
  • Summer League coach Will Weaver talks about giving players their first NBA experience, plus several other topics, in an interview with Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

Rafael Stone Talks Upcoming Draft, Scouting, John Wall, More

Rockets general manager Rafael Stone sat down for an extended conversation with Kelly Iko of The Athletic as the team heads into a major offseason, looking to continue a massive roster overhaul.

After being compelled into trading All-Star guard James Harden to Brooklyn, an injury-plagued Houston team finished with a 17-55 record during its inaugural season under new head coach Stephen Silas.

In the interview, Stone discusses a variety of topics, including how he and his front office team are prepping for what could be a loaded 2021 draft, the way he and his staff evaluate talent in an effort to land under-the-radar depth, and what he projects as the futures of two of the team’s priciest veteran players.

The full story is well worth a read, as Stone also touches on his relationship with team owner Tilman Fertitta, how the team dealt with COVID-19-related challenges during the 2020/21 season, his chemistry with Silas, and more.

Here are some highlights:

On taking an open-minded approach to talent in the upcoming 2021 draft:

“I’m definitely not geared towards any one type of player; we’re just going to try and find the player or players that we think have the potential to be the best. We’re not a team in our iteration that should be focused on this position versus that position, A. But B, I don’t know that any team is generally doing that in the draft. I think the draft is where you’re trying to find just good talented basketball players, I think, where you start thinking about real positionality and holes is more free agency.”

On Houston’s scouting process:

“It’s definitely a collective effort. It’s not just me, I’d say I do my best to use as many different sources of information as I can… I watch a ton. I try to watch them in different situations, I try to envision how they’ll look in our system, both offensively and defensively… My way of thinking about it is you try to funnel. If you can get people who think about basketball differently excited about the same guy, then maybe that’s an interesting guy. When you get to undrafted free agents, or the end of the second round in some respects, you can take a little bit more risk.”

On pricey point guard John Wall‘s long-term fit with Houston:

“John was great… Highly competitive guy who’s nice, super high basketball IQ. We were talking to our young guys the other day, and they were laughing about how John looks like he’s half-listening, and then they’ve got questions and he’s walking them through A, B, C through quadruple Z. He’s been around long enough now. He understands his position, he understands his teammates’ positions, he understands what the defense is doing. Having guys around like that, that’s just about what a pro is supposed to do; you’re supposed to get the whole thing… It’s great for young guys to see that because that’s the level of knowledge that you should attain. You’re not going to have that as a rookie.”

On talented swingman Kevin Porter Jr.:

“His ballhandling is exceptional. That’s not a secret. His passing is really good, too. It did seem like he was miscast playing off the ball. So maybe we were a little more excited about him because we thought that we could maybe unlock a higher upside by moving him onto the ball. We might have been more excited about him than other teams. I’m not in their room, I don’t know what other teams were doing, so I have no idea. But we really liked him.”

Texas Notes: Wall, Thomas, White, Green, Carlisle

With John Wall‘s first season with the Rockets over, Kelly Iko and John Hollinger of The Athletic examined the initial impressions the veteran guard made in Houston, considering whether or not he fits into the team’s future long-term.

Wall was a perennial All-Star with the Wizards early in his career, but a series of injuries cost him significant portions of the past three seasons. As Iko and Hollinger write, Wall has to be commended for the mere fact that he returned to the court and played significant minutes, showing glimpses of his past explosiveness.

However, both scribes also noted that despite those glimpses, Wall appeared to be a fraction of the player he used to be, raising questions about his ability to even remain a starting point guard for the rest of his career. The hefty sum remaining on his contract will make it difficult to trade and therefore, it remains to be seen how the Rockets, or any team, would deploy him moving forward.

Check more news out of the NBA’s Texas squads:

  • Newly-signed Rockets forward Khyri Thomas contributed 16 points in his first game and expressed gratitude for the opportunity, tweets Mark Berman of FOX 26. “I’m never gonna take this opportunity for granted, whether it’s 10-day or a whole year,” he said. “I’m not trying to go out and be Michael Jordan. Just trying to fit in.”
  • Having established himself as a long-term keeper for the Spurs, Derrick White is now working on being a more vocal leader, as Spencer Davies of writes. “The front office and (head coach Gregg Popovich) have been on me (about) trying to be more of a leader,” White said. “It’s something that I’m continuing to develop in. The more confidence you have, the more you’re doing the right things, the more you can hold other people accountable. So it’s a constant thing that I’m developing, and hopefully I just keep getting better and better at it.”
  • The Spurs could conceivably make the play-in tournament without doing much winning as the regular season winds down. However, the team is looking to achieve more than just sneaking into the new postseason format, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News writes.
  • Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle is taking a nuanced view toward the play-in tournament, which Dallas could find itself participating in without a strong finish to the season. Carlisle said the goal should be to avoid the tournament altogether, but if it’s an option, it should be “embraced” and could be a valuable experience to a young team, tweets Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News.
  • As the Mavericks have shown a willingness to be shifty and open-minded with their lineups, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News wonders if it’s time to give rookie Josh Green more playing time.

Southwest Notes: Wall, DeRozan, Pelicans, Porter

Rockets point guard John Wall, now waylaid indefinitely with a right hamstring strain, believes he is still a high-level player, telling reporters over the weekend that he feels he’s still “an All-Star in this league,” per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

Wall appeared in 40 games for Houston, his first on-court action since December 26, 2018, and averaged 20.6 PPG, 6.9 APG, and 3.2 RPG, while connecting on 40.4% of his field goal looks.

“Nobody really thought he would be able to play at a level, probably, too close to what he’s playing right now,” head coach Stephen Silas said of Wall’s play this season. “He’s proving a lot of people wrong and proving a lot to a lot of people. I’m his biggest fan.”

Feigen adds in a separate story that Silas remains hopeful Wall can still return to the court for the Rockets before the end of the year.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan has been reliably solid on offense in late-game scenarios, writes Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News. “I’m pretty sure San Antonio — as fans, the organization — appreciates him,” fellow Spurs guard Dejounte Murray noted of his veteran teammate, who will reach free agency this summer.
  • Despite 2019 No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson making his first All-Star team and Brandon Ingram, an All-Star in his own right last season, having another strong year, the Pelicans will almost certainly fall short of their playoff expectations for this season, as Scott Kushner of details. The Pelicans are currently four games behind the tenth-seeded Warriors for a crack at the play-in tournament, with just 11 games left to play for both teams.
  • It took multiple knee surgeries, but Grizzlies power forward Jontay Porter finally made his NBA debut last month, nearly three years after his last college game. Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal examines Porter’s journey to this point. The 21-year-old out of Missouri, younger brother to Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., has now appeared sparingly in eight games for Memphis.

Rockets Shut Down John Wall

7:30pm: Rockets general manager Rafael Stone said that Wall was diagnosed with a right hamstring strain after an MRI, Mark Berman of FOX26 tweets. The injury occurred against the Clippers on Friday.

6:11pm: The Rockets are shutting down John Wall for the rest of the season due to a hamstring injury, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Houston has 11 games remaining. The Rockets have been a disaster since getting off to an 11-10 start, winning just four of their last 40 games. Shutting down Wall should contribute to the free fall.

Naturally, the Rockets are in great position to get one of the top three picks in the draft. Their 15-46 record is the league’s worst, giving them a 14% chance at the top pick and 52.1% shot at a top-four selection. If Houston’s pick falls outside the top four, the Thunder would receive it, swapping it for Miami’s first-rounder.

Wall has appeared in 40 games and averaged 20.6 PPG and 6.9 APG in his first year with the Rockets. In his last outing, he racked up 27 points and 13 assists against the Clippers on Friday. The former No. 1 overall pick only played 32 games with Washington in 2018/19 and missed all of last season due to a ruptured Achilles.

The player he was traded for, Russell Westbrook, has been a triple-double machine for the Wizards in the second half of the season.

With several key rotation pieces sitting out, the Rockets will rely on unheralded players such as Armoni Brooks, Kenyon Martin Jr. and Anthony Lamb to finish out the season.