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3 best trade destinations for Rockets’ John Wall

John Wall, Rockets

Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, John Wall and the Houston Rockets have met and mutually agreed to work to find a new home for the veteran guard.

John Wall will be at training camp, but not play in any of Houston’s games. This is exciting news if you’re a Rockets fan who wants to focus on the young nucleus of Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba, Josh Christopher, and Kenyon Martin Jr. The problem is, it’s hard to envision a contract more unmovable than Wall’s two years, $91.7 million remaining.

Nobody thought Wall would play out the remainder of his contract in Houston, but the expectation was that a resolution would be reached at a later date. John Wall would be an expiring contract next season and there also may have been more motivation to seek a buyout for both parties.

Finding a trade now is going to be complicated. Rebuilding teams such as the Rockets really shouldn’t move any of their assets out unless it’s for a star or young player, but it’s unlikely they will find a John Wall suitor that doesn’t want at least one first round pick back.

Let’s try and find that long-shot team today.

John Wall trade targets:

1. Los Angeles Clippers

This destination makes the most sense. The Clippers have been in need of stronger point guard play dating back to when Kawhi Leonard was still healthy. They have a ton of matching salary, including Eric Bledsoe, Luke Kennard, Reggie Jackson, and Serge Ibaka. If both sides waited a few months, Marcus Morris could also be an option. The Clippers also don’t have a first round pick until 2027, so they’ll be happy to accept a sweetener to take on Wall’s contract. He would also be the second best player on the roster right away, given Leonard’s absence this season.

2. Dallas Mavericks

It’s unlikely the Mavericks pull the trigger on a deal like this before the season, but if Kristaps Porzingis underperforms again to start the year, John Wall might be a nice bail out trade for them. Porzingis is owed $101.5 million over the next three seasons and Dallas acquired him to be the eventual second best player on a championship team.

John Wall may not be that either for Dallas, but he could serve as a secondary ball handler to Luka Doncic and adding an asset to the war chest never hurts. The Mavericks don’t have a first round pick in 2023 so Houston could just send over Milwaukee’s first round pick for that season as incentive to complete the deal.

3. Philadelphia 76ers

This kind of trade could be a gut punch to Houston, given the assets they’d have to fork over to complete it. Ben Simmons just has much better trade value than John Wall. Teams aren’t reluctant to take on Simmons because of his contract ($146.7 million with four years remaining), but his on-court fit.

He’s one of the best defensive players in basketball and an exceptional passer, so the floor for this kind of trade is a first round pick and a young player in addition to John Wall. It’s a distinct possibility because of the relationships these two teams share, but there are better options available for both parties.

Constructing a trade for Wall is exceedingly difficult right now because of his contract, his desire to join a good team, and the marketplace. This exercise would be easier if John Wall was getting paid less, didn’t mind joining a bad team that would take on assets to trade for him, and if the best teams in the NBA didn’t already have superior point guard options. I’d assume most mock trades will resemble a contract dump, which doesn’t seem to be what the Rockets are willing to do, per the report.

One way or the other, I think this still ends up being a buyout situation where John Wall sits out until he realizes there isn’t a marketplace for him. The days following February trade deadline or after free agency in 2022 will be important to watch as these are typically when high profile buyouts happen. For now, this is probably going to be a long waiting game.