The Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards made a blockbuster offseason trade in the hopes of getting better. The two teams swapped franchise point guards, with Russell Westbrook, after spending one season with the Rockets, moving on to the nation’s capital and John Wall going to H-Town after spending his first 10 seasons with the Wizards.
Wall made his long-awaited return to Washington on Monday night and top-scored with 29 points for his new squad. However, this came in a losing effort to ex-partner-in-crime Bradley Beal and his former team, 131-119. Meanwhile, Westbrook had a very Westbrook-esque night in his first win over his former squad, notching a triple-double with 16 points, 13 rebounds, and 15 assists.
Nonetheless, in the wake of the final game of the Wizards-Rockets season series, which finished in a split, it’s become clear at this point that the Wall-Westbrook swap is turning out to be pointless, with no side coming out as the clear winner.
Both the Wizards and Rockets are nowhere near better than they were a year ago. Houston is obviously way worse from last season, especially after James Harden also requested out earlier in the season. While they did have a rather surprising start to the 2020-21 season, going 11-10 through their first 21 games, they have now dropped their last six and are heading to the bottom of the Western Conference standings. The Victor Oladipo acquisition has so far been a disaster.
John Wall didn’t like the way Washington handled his situation during the offseason. The five-time All-Star openly expressed his disappointment with the Wizards’ dishonesty and lack of communication. He also made it clear that he wanted to get the opportunity to run it back with Bradley Beal for at least another season.
Nevertheless, while he reiterates he is happy now in Houston and looks like he hasn’t lost a step, he doesn’t seem to be in a much better situation himself with the Rockets going in the tank. At this point in his career, Wall, 30, would probably want to play for a winning organization.
On the other hand, the Wizards believed that Russell Westbrook could be the solution to finally launch them back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture. With the way their season is going, the early returns have suggested that trading for the former league MVP in exchange for their former franchise star in John Wall hasn’t worked out. Plus, a first-round pick was included along with Wall in order to acquire Westbrook.
Sure, Westbrook is putting up triple-doubles left and right. But his performances have not translated into wins for Washington, because his efficiency and defense are terrible. Despite the win on Monday, the Wizards currently hold the second-worst record in the East standings with an 8-17 mark. Sure, that could change in the weak Eastern Conference, where they, at No. 14, are just four games behind the sixth seed. Still, the way they have played so far suggests they are still closer to being a lottery team than being a top-four team in the conference.
Even though he insists he doesn’t want a trade, Bradley Beal has shown plenty of frustration this season. While Beal apparently likes playing with Westbrook, it’s possible that this deal, which sent away his good buddy in John Wall, could potentially lead him out the door in Washington as well.
There is a lot of basketball left to be played this season and a lot could still change. Nonetheless, the early returns suggest that both the Wizards and Rockets didn’t win anything with this Westbrook-Wall exchange.