Looks like my break is ending early, because we got ourselves a trade! And a big one at that! John Wall got his wish and is headed out of Washington. Russell Westbrook also got his wish and is leaving Houston. There was a rumour going around that this would happen and I did not believe it for a second. Wow.
Are you ready for a lot of “W’s”? Westbrook, Washington, Wall, Woj, Wizards, Winners, Wow!
According to Woj (who else?) the trade has been confirmed. Washington are sending Wall and a 2023 protected first round pick to Houston, in exchange for Westbrook. So it’s not quite a one for one, but the Wizards had to add something to sweeten the deal. Wall is an injury risk, hasn’t played for 2 years and is on a pretty massive contract, owed (on average) $47million USD per season, for the next 3 seasons! That’s a lot of money for someone who hasn’t played in a while.
So who wins this trade? It’s hard to say early on, but I’d lean pretty heavily towards Washington.
They will now have the starting back court of Westbrook and Beal. That’s pretty solid and the two should compliment one another fairly well. I imagine Westbrook will still work as the primary ball handler and can do most of his damage from the inside. Beal will be able to play off the ball and is a reliable 3 point shooter. They should be a decent handful for any defense to play against.
Westbrook has often been criticised for his defensive abilities, but could the defense of the Wizards get any worse? This might be the perfect landing spot for him. Besides, I think he is a better defender than what he is given credit for, particularly on the ball.
As for the draft pick they had to give up, who cares? I can’t believe I said that, I love draft picks. Seriously though, it shouldn’t be a big deal. If this trade works out for the Wizards, they could push for a 4th or 5th seed in the East. I can’t see a scenario where they don’t make the playoffs, especially with the 9th and 10th seeds getting a chance (which is ridiculous by the way, that two thirds of the league!). The pick isn’t going to be a high one and even if it is, it’s got some protections on it (I’m not sure what they are, but they are there).
For Houston, this feels like a gamble. Who knows what will happen? I haven’t seen John Wall play for a while, but I remember he had the ball in his hands a fair bit. Kind of like Harden, his new backcourt mate. Will Wall come off the bench or play off the ball? Or will Harden let Wall handle the ball, similar to how he let Westbrook?
In theory, this is a pretty good trade. Wall, Harden and Boogie Cousins are all pretty decent players. Can they work together though? That’s the real question. My prediction : a good regular season, followed by a first round exit. Maybe 2nd round.
Still, they had to do something and will likely enter a rebuild if this doesn’t work. They won’t be able to move the Wall contract if he flames out. They have committed themselves to a lot of money. High risk and I’m not sure the reward is worth it. I can’t see this making them a championship team. If nothing else though, at least they got an extra draft pick.