In the midst of free agency chaos, Washington Wizards guard John Wall requested a trade. Wall has not played an NBA game since Boxing Day 2018.
This was a response to Russell Westbrook trade rumours – it had been swirling in the rumour mill that the Wizards would offer Wall for Westbrook, a swap of two of the NBA’s worst long-term contracts.
A former first overall pick, Wall was the face of the franchise through the majority of the last decade. He was five times named an All-Star and once reached All-NBA calibre. While the Wizards were short of title contention, Wall was the franchise’s hope from the day he was drafted and he threw himself into the city. Washington loved Wall, and that feeling was reciprocated for much of his tenure. It appears the relationship has run its course.
This leaves the Wizards in a challenging position. No one knows how effective Wall will be after a string of serious injuries. He’s got three years on his contract, including the $47 million player option in 2022/23. Finding a trade partner for a contract like that is never easy, and it might border on the impossible with Wall’s injury history.
If the Wizards are to deal Wall, they would likely need to incentivise the trade. Even then, it’s going to be hard to find a team who will take him when Westbrook is on the market. Few teams have shown interest in Westbrook – why would they feel differently about Wall?
Potential landing spots for John Wall
The Detroit Pistons were one landing spot. Drafting Killian Hayes makes a trade for Westbrook or Wall much less likely. The Orlando Magic were in the mix for Westbrook, but they just selected Cole Anthony, and if they couldn’t strike a deal for Westbrook, why would they take Wall given the salary they would have to send out? Rumours of the Knicks’ interest is inevitable, and they can easily make a trade work. They might be the only team in the NBA who would take a chance on Wall.
Washington must hold their ground. They might have no other choice anyway. Wall has to prove he can stay healthy and be a productive player for a trade to be remotely possible (Washington may still have to attach assets).
The best fit for Wall is still in Washington. If he can get close to the player he was, the Wall, Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans core can be competitive.
This trade request, given the patience the Wizards have shown with Wall, will provoke another tidal wave of player empowerment discussions. No contract is unmovable, as keeps being proven by trades like Al Horford to the Thunder, but Wall’s contract is about as close as it gets. Wall’s trade request might ultimately be irrelevant – there’s no guarantee the Wizards can find a trade partner even if they’re desperate to move him.