With Ben Simmons dangling in the wind all summer long, Sixers fans have been rightly conditioned to start speculating any time it seems a fellow All-Star (or former All-Star) could be on the trade block around the league.
This week, The Athletic's NBA insider and scoopmaster Shams Charania reported he's heard from sources close to the situation that John Wall intends to sit out until the Rockets can trade him to a more amenable playing situation:
"After meeting and seeing eye-to-eye on the direction of the Houston Rockets, the franchise and John Wall have agreed on working together to find a new home for the five-time All-Star guard, sources tell The Athletic.
"The plan is for Wall to remain present around the Rockets entering training camp, which begins late this month, and to not play in games for Houston this season, sources said."
Very interesting! Especially the seemingly agreeable nature of the resolution, on both sides. Wall was a Washington Wizard for a long time, was traded to the Rockets in the Russell Westbrook deal, and is apparently not interested in playing for a rebuilding team. You can't fault the guy.
But there's a very important detail later in Charania's report that should have the Sixers backing away from any potential trade talks, and quickly:
"Sources said there are no buyout plans on the two years and $91.7 million remaining on Wall’s contract — including a $47.4 million player option for the 2022-23 season."
If Wall isn't willing to take a buyout with Houston in order to make himself more appealing to prospective teams, I'm completely out on pursuing the former All-Star point guard - and the Sixers should be, too.
In a vacuum, Wall is an extremely intriguing player. He still can't really shoot threes, but last year he showed the athleticism remains. He gets his own buckets, he's a nightmare in the fastbreak, and with the right supporting cast he could be a very usable player. He's 31, but he doesn't have an insane amount of miles on his tires since he's so often been hurt. That also, of course, makes him a bit of an unknown commodity - are you getting a full season of Wall? Or 30 games and then a year-ending injury?
Then you remember that this isn't in a vacuum, and Wall is owed a ludicrous amount of money over the next two seasons. Like, unbelievable money: a $44.3 million cap hit in 2021-22, and a $47.3 million cap hit in 2022-23 if he picks up his player option, which he obviously will.
Wall is a win-now player, and the Sixers are a win-now team, but the price tag is simply too high for a player with his shaky injury background. He's not the All-Star he once was, but I do think a Wall-Embiid-Harris trio would make a lot of sense offensively.
Wall is also not currently a better player than Simmons, but when you're trying to ship out a disgruntled player who seems to have given up on the franchise, you're not going to always win the trade. What you can do is mitigate loss and try to put something together on the fly. Wall, if he didn't cost so much, would check that box for me.
But I can't possibly justify paying Wall all that dough. It's obscene.
If Wall eventually realizes he can only be traded to bad teams with cap room and finally accepts a buyout? Okay, then we can talk. Until then, I hope Daryl Morey keeps the conversations with Houston short and sweet.