The first Bradley Beal trade article required a preamble to explain why it goes against conventional and my personal thinking. This first John Wall article is not going to be very different.
So let’s first get to the real world. Wall is untradable. He is owed $131.5 million over the next three seasons, one of which is a player option that he is extremely likely to exercise. He hasn’t played since December 2018, meaning by the time he takes the floor next season it will be more than two full years since he dazzled us with his speed and playmaking. That’s the ultimate negative asset.
If you’re not familiar with this term, a negative asset in the NBA is a player not performing to his contract or percentage of the cap and therefore is harder to trade. A negative asset requires additional positive assets (think low salary with high production) such as young players and/or draft picks to get a trade done. That’s why fans speculate how many first round picks the Wizards need to include if they want to trade Wall.
The Wizards are giving Wall and Beal another run at it because...there just isn’t another option to be quite honest. The best case scenario is everyone stays healthy and they have a blast getting into the playoffs next season. *CLINK*
(Yes, that’s the sound of a can being kicked down the road.)
So what if Wall returns playing as well as his physique looks (and STAYS healthy)? After all, he’s looked good in scrimmages. What then? Then there could be takers, of a sort.
Any and every Wall trade is going to include LOTS of salary coming back. Some of it will be on the negative side. Some of it could be close to unplayable. The goal for the Wizards would be to get as much on court help for Beal as they can or at least get negative assets who still produce something in exchange for their high salary.
As I said, there are no deals for John this offseason given the reality of his injury.
But for our hypotheticals we’re asking for a suspension of disbelief around the timing while making assumptions as to his level of play. As the Deal has noted in part articles, history doesn’t repeat but it often echoes. Who better to deal our oft injured PG to than the Orlando Magic?
Also thanks to CheetoBingo who requested a tough target (Aaron Gordon).
The Deal: Washington Wizards trade Wall, Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant, and the ninth overall draft pick to the Orlando Magic for Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Al Faruq Aminu. The Wizards selected James Wiseman ninth in my most recent mock draft.
Why do the Magic make the deal?
Jonathan Isaac was right back on the cusp of a breakthrough when he went down with another knee ligament tear. Rough. His rehab will change some of their planning. Adding the ninth overall pick to the 14th they already have helps them reload on the fly.
I love that the Magic took a chance on Markelle Fultz. They’ve put a lot into rebuilding him after Philly nearly destroyed him. He’s shown he can be a productive NBA player but he isn’t quite what the new NBA is asking for. He may wind up at his best as a do-it-all sixth man. He has one year left on his original contract for $12 million. He’s certainly moveable in a separate deal but I thought it was too much to include him or Terrance Davis in this one. He’s got more game than that.
The Magic receive a former All Star in Wall, who they envision playing at a 18-9-4 clip. Orlando still has Davis and Evan Fournier (player option for $17 million) to flank Wall with shooters or to flip for decent assets if they so choose. Also, since Wall would be presumably be playing at a high level once again, they can continue to make at least one more run in the playoffs.
The Magic also receive Bryant, who can battle it out with former lottery pick Mo Bamba for the starting job. No matter who wins they make a formidable pair for coach Steve Clifford. Adding Bryant allows them to play four-out. In doing so they clear Vucevic’s three years and $72 million off their books, shifting that investment into the back court with Wall’s deal.
Remember where I said it would take young players and draft picks to make up for Wall’s super max cap percentage? That’s where the ninth overall pick comes into play. The Magic clear Aaron Gordon’s two years and $34 million owed.
The Magic signed Aminu to a three year deal for the full MLE last offseason hoping he’d be their third forward after Gordon and Isaac. They pictured him coming in and holding the defensive presence established by their long tall forwards in vital playoff match-ups. Instead he played only 18 games before injuring his knee. He also suffered a setback while rehabbing from the original injury (sound familiar?). The Magic clear Aminu’s two years $19 million off of their books. Eagle eyed readers will notice this as a negative asset but at least one with the possibility of redemption.
Why do the Wizards make the deal?
Not unlike the deal that sent Gilbert Arenas to Orlando for Rashard Lewis 10 years ago, the first Wall deal is likely to be more about reducing his percentage owed.
And the Wizards may not be trading Wall to Orlando for who they get in this deal in the longer term. But perhaps Vucevic and/or Gordon could be flipped for more players down the road.
So let’s take a look at how the Arenas deal turned out for Washington. Yes, they traded him for Lewis in 2010. But in future seasons, they flipped Lewis for even smaller contracts held by Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor in 2012-13. And Okafor was traded for Marcin Gortat the following season.
But this deal costs a lot in assets because it brings so much quality back, more than many expect for Wall.
Vucevic put up 20-11-4 for the Magic in his age 29 season. He is an All-Star. He’s a tank. He’s dependable too, if not one to make highlight reel plays. For any Wall trade to work and by work I mean bring enough back for Beal to commit to a longer term, it should include a player of Vucevic’s quality. The Wizards include the lottery pick in part to get an All-Star back.
And though this fact probably wouldn’t sway Washington Mystics forward Emma Meesseman’s decision in WNBA free agency, Vucevic, who is a Montengrin national, was raised in Belgium as a child. In fact, he is also a Belgian citizen and speaks fluent French. His father, Borislav, played professionally in Ieper (Meesseman’s hometown!), Brussels, Aalst and Liège during his career. Just pointing that out for our Belgian readers.
Now, let’s move onto Gordon, CheetoBingo’s target. Tweener forwards everywhere. The 25 year old Gordon plays mostly four nowadays. 14pts, 8rebs and 4 assists per game, so that makes two guys who can move the ball and find their teammates. I wouldn’t quite call him a secondary creator though. He’s a defensive upgrade too.
Problem with Gordon’s game is his outside shooting. He topped out at 35% from 3pt range in the 18-19 season. Since then notsomuch. Athletic and versatile to a point... then he hit a plateau.
Aminu is the price of doing business, an overpayment from last offseason. There is hope he can regain the form he showed in Portland. He was a valuable defensive presence often taking on the opponents’ best forward. If he can come off the bench and pick up defensive assignments and regain his finishing around the basket he can be a useful rotation guy.
Statistical highlight more than fun fact, Aminu shot over 40% from 3pt distance in the playoffs in three of his four seasons in Portland.
Both Vucevic and Gordon’s salaries decrease over two years.
The Wizards would need to go free agent hunting for a PG with only Ish and Troy under contract or take one at 37 or with the second rounder they purchase.
So here’s what the depth chart will look like before using MLE, BAE and 37.
- G: Ish Smith - Troy Brown
- G: Beal - Jerome Robinson - Garrison Mathews (RFA)
- F: Vucevic - Wagner - Pasecniks
- F: Gordon - Bertans (UFA) - Aminu
- F: Hachimura - Bonga - Schofield
Trade John Wall?
This poll is closed
Yes, but I wish we were getting a future pick back or sending them a future 1st instead.
No, I don’t want those players even if Wall is broken. You said he was playing well.
This insanity makes up for the Elie Okobo article.
Want to request a trade target or send a challenge? Email me at Jheiser3@gmail.com and include your Bullets Forever screen name to get proper credit.