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Roundtable: Our reactions to the John Wall and Russell Westbrook trade rumors

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We chatted about the biggest news of the day outside of the NBA Draft last night.

Houston Rockets v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Three
Most of the Bullets Forever staff isn’t that enthusiastic about Russell Westbrook possibly coming to the Washington Wizards.
Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

The Washington Wizards typically aren’t hot on the rumor mill. Yesterday was an exception when there were reported discussions about a John Wall for Russell Westbrook swap with the Houston Rockets.

Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard was asked about the rumor today on ESPN 980, where he dodged the question and stressed that he liked the possibility of a Wall and Bradley Beal backcourt, calling them “one of the best backcourts in the NBA,” when healthy of course.

I personally don’t expect to see Wall traded for Westbrook straight up. And since Westbrook is a recent NBA MVP while Wall was never seriously in the conversation, I think Washington will still have to give up a first round pick, whether this year’s or next year’s and possibly more to get him. To make the numbers work out, the Rockets and/or a third team would have to include some other players to make a deal like this work out.

In other words, if you want to see Westbrook wear a Number Zero jersey for the first time since Gilbert Arenas, it’s unlikely for now.

We had a roundtable last night when the news came out. And here it is,


Albert Lee: Hi all, I was going to have a roundtable on the draft by Friday or so. But I think you all know the bigger news story: the Wall for Westbrook trade rumor. Any thoughts or screams against the possible move?

Lyndie Wood: I genuinely do not understand the point, especially if the Wizards have to give up assets (which they should be hoarding right now).

This isn’t a team that needs a small upgrade to get it over the edge.

This isn’t an underperforming team with a high ceiling that needs a chemistry shakeup.

This is a team that is stalling a bit on their way to a rebuild, because they have a couple expensive vets under contract. Westbrook adding a few more wins this year would be totally irrelevant.

So...why do it? What do you gain?

John Heiser: No screams here until we hear about future pick(s) going to Houston. Then? A 2022 first is the most I’d offer to include. The Wizards need this year’s pick. 2021 could be loaded. 2022 is no longer expected to be the double-up/eligibility shift year.

We should absolutely ask for PJ Tucker too. Adding Jerome Robinson to a deal makes it possible salary wise. Adding Moritz Wagner wouldn’t change my mind.

Alan Jenkins: I thought this franchise was past the point of giving up assets for a lateral move? If I’m the Wizards, the only reason they should even entertain this is if they feel Wall won’t ever return to being a fraction of a player he used to be.

Washington has made it very clear that going forward, Bradley Beal is the centerpiece, not John Wall. But even then, I don’t see how a Wall for Westbrook swap would make Beal happy. This deal doesn’t make any sense and hopefully, it turns out to be nothing more than Tommy picking up the phone to see what Houston had to say.

Albert: As you said Alan, that’s right. The Wizards are building around Beal. The Scott Brooks connection makes Westbrook a bit more enticing, however.

John: The Wizards just hired two doctors from the Thunder for their revamped medical staff, including the doc who will have the duties of the old “head trainer”. In case they want an idea of Russ’ health.

This move would refocus the team around Brad. No need to worry if Wall will cede the alpha or try to co-alpha with Beal at a reduced capacity.

Diamond Holton: I honestly need to know what these “assets” are before making any move or decision. It would be interesting to see Westbrook in Washington nonetheless.

Let’s say it happens...I believe Russ can bring more attention to Washington meaning other potential stars may want to join. I get that Westbrook’s style of play, especially recently in Oklahoma City wasn’t “team-friendly,” but he is a recent MVP and was on the USA Basketball men’s national team for the 2012 Olympics when they won the gold. Neither Wall or Beal can claim those accolades on their resumes.

When it comes to Beal and Wall trying to persuade players to consider going to Washington, I feel that it’s Beal doing more of the persuading behind the scenes. Wall doesn’t seem to be of the mindset where he’s asking people to come and join or etc. So I feel Russ can draw some attention to this team in the long run, even give his faults.

Matt Modderno: I would pass unless Beal is telling you he really wants this. We finally got to a point where I feel confident Wall and Beal can coexist on the court (they’re both saying the right things) and they have talked about a deep personal connection off the court (Beal joining Wall when Wall’s mother passed away for example).

Westbrook doesn’t have a great track record of playing well with others. I get Diamond’s points, but do we really expect the former league MVP to come here and be cool playing second fiddle? Or is Beal going to be okay taking a back seat more to Westbrook?

Of the two point guards in this potential blockbuster deal, Westbrook is the better player (although he’s also had multiple injuries and a lot of mileage). But Wall seems like the better bet from a chemistry perspective at this point. Plus, teams with more continuity among their core historically seem to be more successful. I appreciate them exploring all potential options, but I don’t see the value added.

Nick Bilka: Jumping into one of these for the first time in a while. (Hello everyone!)

To assume it is a lateral move, I think this deal would involve thinking that Wall is going to play a similar amount of games over the next three years and play them at a level equivalent to Westbrook. That or Houston is really desperate to get rid of Westbrook, which isn’t true by the way. In fact, they’re willing to see Westbrook AND Harden together in camp!

Anyway, while past performance does not always equal future results, the past performance is not promising to say the least. Besides playing 73 games in the past three years (and for the most part, those games were far from Wall’s performance level in 2016-17), Wall is coming off an injury with one of the worst track records for recovery (see Kevin Broom’s piece on this) in basketball.

Ben Becker: I don’t think it’s fair to characterize the reports of the discussions as “the Wizards are interested in trading Wall for Westbrook.” That’s a huge leap and we have no real idea what was discussed and when.

Albert: Ben, this is a fair point. Admittedly, I was a bit clickbait-y with the headline from yesterday. But the Wizards also haven’t explicitly denied interest in Westbrook either.

Marcus Atkinson: I hate the idea of this trade. To be quite frank, strictly from a basketball perspective, I believe Westbrook has all-world talent, but he has never been a great basketball player. He has noticeable flaws to his game that will only grow as he ages. With Wall, even if he doesn’t come back as the same player, he has some skills/attributes that aren’t age-dependent like his court vision, pinpoint passing and size.

And this needs to be said, after listening to him talking on the No Chill Gil podcast and talking about how bad his bone spurs were, how doctors were amazed that he played, much less walked: Are we sure Wall has already peaked?

Most of Wall’s deficiencies to his game had nothing to do with his athleticism. Wall has shown a much cleaner shooting form in these viral online videos that have recently come out.

If he shoots better, and in any combination improves defensively, plays better off the ball, etc, is it crazy to think that Wall could actually become a better overall player? If I am the Wizards’ front office I need to know that before I trade him away, because if Wall has improved, and you put him next to an improved Beal, with a young supporting cast, maybe you have the beginning of something brewing, or maybe not. But I would want to be sure before ruling that out.

Kevin Broom: This report struck me as little more than the Wizards answering the phone and listening, and then the Rockets leaking the conversation to signal to the league they’re willing to trade Westbrook. I can’t see Sheppard doing this, especially if he has to give up additional assets.

That said, should the Wizards do this kind of trade? I would lean towards no.

Westbrook WAS a great player, but he’s not anymore. He shot 26 percent from three-point range, and in the postseason was left largely undefended on the perimeter. Overall, his production was way down — a 126 PPA last season (in PPA, 100 is average and higher is better). Wall is likely to be significantly diminished from his best days, but should still be able to get to a production level at least in that range.

Realistically, both guys are in the expensive decline portions of their careers. Might as well stick with Wall. He’s worked hard in rehab and deserves a shot to come back with the Wizards.

John: This link stuck out to me from yesterday from Ben Standig and more of his colleagues at The Athletic (subscription required). According to agents in the league, the Wizards are straight shooters, so when they say they want to see something, it’s rare to see them make an about face. The Rockets? Not so much.


All in all, most of us weren’t that hot about this Westbrook for Wall trade idea. But do you feel it is still worth considering now that nearly 24 hours have passed? Let us know in the comments below.