The first overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, John Wall, had quite the start to his professional career. Although he finished second to Blake Griffin in Rookie of the Year voting that year, the next few years would see Wall quickly ascend from young talent to bona fide superstar. A magnificent performance against the Boston capped Wall's meteoric rise to stardom Celtics, where he averaged over 25 points and ten assists per game against Isaiah Thomas and crew. Wall helped the Washington Wizards push the series to a deciding seventh game, helping generate the most relevance for the franchise since Washington became the Wizards instead of the Bullets.
A few surgeries and an enormous max contract later, Wall is now with the Houston Rockets after being traded for Russell Westbrook last summer. After one year in Houston, his time with the Rockets seems to have come to an end.
Houston is in rebuild mode after drafting Jalen Green with the second overall pick in this year's draft, pairing Green with young talent in Kevin Porter Jr. and Christian Wood. Given their age, Wall doesn't fir the Houston timetable, and his departure from Houston almost seemed inevitable. There is no bad blood between the Rockets and Wall, and this is simply a situation where both sides are moving in different directions.
"Wall will report to training camp for the Rockets, but will not suit up for any of their games."
Wall sitting out means that his main objective is to help the Rockets find a deal for him by staying healthy and out of trouble. Where the problem lies is in John's perceived value around the league at the moment, coupled with his enormous contract as Wall is owed close to a hundred million dollars over the next two seasons.
"It's going to be tricky for the Rockets to find a deal." - Zach Lowe
Zach Lowe, ">The Jump
Zach is correct; it will be nearly impossible to find a team willing to take on Wall's contract for the player he is today. Wall can still play and be a contributor on a championship team, but for over 40 million dollars a year, questions about his durability and fit with most of the teams in the league will leave the market for Wall relatively lukewarm. While the Rockets begin to shop Wall around, it somehow feels calling teams regarding the former all-star is a futile exercise, as the contract is just too much to take on for a franchise.
Wall likely gets bought out after a few months of testing the market, and after clearing waivers, we should see John on the roster of a contender. If Houston were to be hell-bent on facilitating trade, however, wouldn't the only way to move a player that nobody wants is to make a deal for another player that nobody wants?
Enter, Ben Simmons. While Zach Lowe believes the Sixers would not have a reason to make this trade, I think that they do. Perhaps Wall isn't the Kyle Lowry-type player that Morey envisions receiving for Simmons, but he is far from a scrub, either. After several surgeries, Wall still seems to be able to get up and down the floor with the best of them; this is a testament to how quick and explosive he was in his early years. Do you know who else gets up and down the court quickly? Ben Simmons.
I'm not saying that Simmons for Wall is a straight-up swap for equal value, and a few young players will have to be added to the mix to make the deal work. However, doing a deal centered around the two guards helps each franchise achieve its main priority for the seasons to come.
For the Rockets, they would be getting a young superstar in Ben Simmons. While there is much room for improvement as far as Ben's shooting is concerned, he is elite in every other aspect of basketball. Simmons is only 25 years of age and will still be in his prime as Green and Porter Jr. come into their own. Imagine Ben alternating at the point forward and dunker spot with Christian Wood, while Porter Jr. and Jalen Green start at the guard positions - scary.
The Sixers would get a dynamic guard that can still get up and down the court but can also hit the outside shot much better than Simmons. Wall also has playoff experience and will not be afraid to shoot in big moments while still having the capacity to get everybody involved and run the team like a true point guard. The Sixers would sorely miss Ben's defense, but young forward Matisse Thybulle seems to have the chops to bring the same intensity that Simmons did on defense, just think of Doc turning Tisse' into the new Tony Allen.
Most importantly, it would allow the Sixers to start the season drama-free in the locker room while not necessarily getting robbed in a deal for Ben Simmons. Apart from Wall, the Rockets could throw in some of their wing players should the Sixers want to expand the trade, but the Wall for Simmons swap needs to happen. The worst-case scenario is that the Sixers are stuck with a high-paid guard for two years instead of four, which would give them more flexibility to build around Joel Embiid during his prime years.
So if I'm Daryl Morey, I'm picking up the phone now and calling Houston regarding Wall. While John Wall isn't the answer to the Sixers' problems, he's a big step in the right direction. Wall isn't worth over $40 million a year, but he can bring much of Ben's offensive skillset alongside a decent jump shot. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't, but with Brooklyn and the rest of the Eastern Conference gearing up, Philly will not win a championship standing still.