Sunday, October 24 2021

The Rockets don’t see a fit for veteran guard John Wall in their rebuild, but his contract could be too prohibitive at this time for other NBA teams to trade for him. That’s why reports emerged in recent days that the five-time All-Star would remain on Houston’s roster, perhaps as long as the entire 2021-22 season, but not play in any games.

But all it takes is one phone call to Rockets general manager Rafael Stone change things. Is it possible that such a call might come from Daryl Morey, who used to be Stone’s boss in Houston before leaving last fall to become president of basketball operations in Philadelphia?

ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins, who previously played for a number of NBA teams, thinks Wall could be a better fit with the 76ers than disgruntled All-Star Ben Simmons. His analysis:

Last year, we got a glimpse of the old John Wall…I still think John Wall can help somebody. I can see John Wall going to the Clippers, or even maybe Philly. I don’t know what’s going on with the Ben Simmons situation, but I think John Wall in Philly with Joel Embiid is better than Ben Simmons in Philly with Joel Embiid, because John Wall is actually going to take those shots and be aggressive. John Wall is not going to be afraid to go to the free-throw line.

I know his contract, he’s due almost $100 million over the next two years, but at the end of the day, I still think he has something to offer to a contending team.

Simmons averaged 14.3 points (55.7% FG), 7.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists, and 1.6 steals in 32.4 minutes last season. The lanky 25-year-old is well regarded for his defense, athleticism, and versatility, but he hasn’t improved as a perimeter shooter in the five years since being picked No. 1 overall in the NBA’s 2016 draft. In turn, that often creates spacing issues for the 76ers, who are built around a traditional low-post big in Embiid.

The Rockets passed on the opportunity to trade for Simmons earlier this year, but in that situation, it was James Harden — by far the most valuable asset in the organization — on the trade block. It’s entirely possible that they might be interested in Simmons at a much lower price point, and it could also be argued that a rebuilding team like the Rockets might give Simmons a less stressful environment to work on his deficiencies than the immediate pressure of a title contender like Philadelphia.

The bigger question is whether Morey and the Sixers are desperate enough for such an experiment. For months, Morey’s asking price for Simmons in a trade has reportedly been “Harden-esque.” While Wall had a solid year in 2020-21 with averages of 20.6 points and 6.9 assists per game, he’s a 31-year-old with a long career injury list.

Between Wall’s age, health concerns, and a contract that will have him paid nearly $92 million over the next two seasons, many have speculated that he might have negative trade value. In anything close to a straight swap, it’s a far cry from the historic haul of draft assets that Stone received for Harden, and that’s the type of return that Morey apparently wants for Simmons — who is six years younger and seen by most around the NBA as having better trade value than Wall.

Moreover, it’s quite unlikely that Stone would attach any premium draft assets to Wall in such a deal, given the value of high picks to Houston’s rebuild and with Simmons coming off a subpar playoff showing. The Rockets could potentially offer mid-tier draft assets along with Wall, but that wouldn’t seem to come close to Morey’s asking price.

Yet, superficially, it’s hard not to wonder about the connections. Wall and Simmons are both represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, and each desires a new team. They each have large salaries for 2021-22 (Wall at approximately $44 million, Simmons at $33 million) that are difficult for many teams to match in trades, yet that concern goes away if they are dealt for the other. And once training camps open on Sept. 28, some around the league wonder if the 76ers will truly risk Simmons not reporting or the spectacle of him being there but visibly unhappy and potentially harming team chemistry. After all, with an MVP runner-up in Embiid in the prime of his career, they want to contend for a title now.

Even connecting those dots, it’s hard to envision the Rockets giving up the type of draft package that Morey would want, considering that Stone already chose that type of draft haul over Simmons a few months ago.

But if the Sixers feel pressured by Simmons’ discontent and the agency representing both Simmons and Wall is working behind the scenes, perhaps an unlikely scenario could present itself to where Morey backs down on his asking price. With training camps opening next Tuesday, fans won’t have to wait much longer to see if that’s the case.

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Source: Yahoo Sports


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