With a five-game winning streak, the Houston Rockets are gaining momentum for the 2021-2022 season. The key issue with the franchise is finding out what to do with John Wall, who has remained inactive for over 20 games.
Recently, Wall met with general manager Rafael Stone and coach Stephen Silas to discuss his return to Houston’s starting lineup. Wall’s request to step back onto the court for the Rockets was denied, and there is still no clear solution for both parties.
The obvious answer would be for Rockets management to trade the five-time NBA All-Star. The issue is finding a trading partner willing to pay out Wall’s lucrative contract, as he’s owed $44 million this season and $47 million the following season.
Despite this setback, there are teams that can benefit from his addition, since he’s currently a nonexistent factor in Houston’s lineup.
Here are four possible trade scenarios for Wall. These trade scenarios are intended to be realistic and financially plausible. Additional bargaining, most likely with draft capital, could be needed to satisfy both parties.
Cleveland Cavaliers- Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio
Currently, Kevin Love is averaging a near career-low 11.3 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game. It’s apparent that the 33-year-old veteran is entering the twilight stage of his career. Considering his sizable $31 million payout for the 2021-2022 season, the Cavaliers may be open to trading him. Also, Love’s departure would allow for Cleveland’s young, promising big men, such as Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, and Lauri Markkanen, to have more room to shine.
Ricky Rubio, like Wall, is a 31-year-old point guard. This season, Rubio is averaging a career-best 13.5 points, 4 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game. However, Rubio has never quite elevated to All-Star level, and will likely continue in this mid-tier role for the Cavaliers. When comparing the two guards, Wall is clearly more productive.
For Houston, Love could offer veteran leadership to the other big men on the roster. Besides basketball knowledge, Love could still be a contributor on the court in this later stage of his career. Additionally, Rubio would serve as a solid option and another veteran voice within Houston’s rotation, without dominating over the Rockets’ younger talents.
Brooklyn Nets- Kyrie Irving, Joe Harris
Kyrie Irving probably won’t be suiting up for the Brooklyn Nets anytime soon. With COVID-19 cases trending upwards, New York’s vaccine mandate will likely stay firm. Irving, who’s decided not to get vaccinated, isn’t allowed to play home games in Brooklyn until he has received the COVID-19 vaccine. As of now, he remains inactive on the roster, with no indications of a return. It’s unlikely the two years left on his contract will benefit Brooklyn’s championship hopes.
From this trade, the only player that the Nets would lose in their lineup is Joe Harris. Harris is currently averaging 11.3 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 assist per game. Based on recent statistics, this is a fairly square deal.
While Irving’s choice not to get vaccinated comes with complications, the seven-time NBA All-Star is a top talent in the league. Last season, Irving averaged 26.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game. Regardless of chemistry or mandate concerns, Irving’s restricted playing time is much more appealing than Wall sitting idly on a bench all season. Also, Harris would be a solid pickup for Houston’s depth chart.
Would Houston have to give up draft picks here, or would Brooklyn just be so happy to get something for Kyrie that they won’t mind losing Harris?
Philadelphia 76ers- Ben Simmons, Matisse Thybulle
Ben Simmons continues to cause problems for the Philadelphia 76ers, citing mental health as his reason for sitting out games. While this may be a true claim, his behavior towards the organization has been unprofessional and problematic. As Simmons continues to burn down his bridges in Philadelphia, a fresh start might benefit both parties. With that being said, Wall would be a solid addition to this championship contending franchise.
Despite the issues Simmons is going through, Houston could be a good fit for the Australian native. After all, Simmons is 25 years old, which is near the age of Houston’s younger standout players. There is no doubt that he would be a positive addition to the Rockets. Last season, Simmons averaged 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game. Matisse Thybulle is ia good defender but it mainly included in this trade for salary cap reasons.
A deal between these two teams seems to make sense due to Simmons’ inactivity, but Daryl Morey’s hesitancy to take a hit on any potential Simmons deal could be a hold up.
Orlando Magic- Gary Harris, Markelle Fultz
The Orlando Magic lack an established superstar. Wall isn’t the All-Star caliber guard from his days in Washington, but he could bring more media coverage to Orlando. To make this trade happen, Orlando would need to part ways with Gary Harris and Markelle Fultz. This season, Harris is averaging 7 points per game, 2.1 rebounds per game, and 1.7 assists per game. Additionally, Fultz is averaging 12.9 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game, and 5.4 assists per game. In regards to how much Orlando is sacrificing, neither Harris or Fultz are as productive as Wall was last season.
Even if Harris and Fultz don’t make any substantial contributions in Houston, the Rockets would free up lots of salary cap for the future. Harris is signed to a one year deal worth $25 million, meaning that Houston has the option to let him go in free agency. Additionally, Fultz’s three-year $50 million contract is more manageable than one worth $90 over two years.