Russell Westbrook leads the Washington Wizards and John Wall is heading to the Houston Rockets in a significant swap of an MVP, an MVP who is an No. 1 overall draft pick just weeks before the season begins. The Wizards sent a future lottery-protected first round pick from the Rockets on Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, the NBA champions are signing a $ 190m five-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, Anthony Davis. His agent Rich Paul told ESPN that Davis, who is a free agent after his current Lakers deal expired, would sign the deal as soon as Thursday. The news came after LeBron James allegedly extended an $ 85m two-year contract with the Lakers.
Meanwhile, Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard welcomed Westbrook’s arrival.
“We couldn’t pass because of both the immediate and long-term future of our team, because of Russell’s opportunity to acquire a player and character of caliber,” he said in a release. “With that said, the decision to part with John, one of the greatest players in franchise history, was extremely difficult. What he has done for our organization and our community is unfathomable and will not be forgotten . “
While Wall has spent his entire career playing in the nation’s capital, the move ended Westbrook’s tenure in Houston after only a disappointing season. He arrived from Oklahoma City in July 2019 for Chris Paul and draft picks.
The Rockets had hoped that the 32-year-old Westbrook would be the last piece needed to win his first title since winning back-to-back championships in 1994–95. But instead, Houston was eliminated from the playoffs in the Western Semifinals by eventual champions Los Angeles Lakers. Westbrook was the 2017 NBA MVP and is a nine-time All-Star, but has failed to win a title.
Many questioned whether the pair of two ball-dominator guards, such as Westbrook and James Harden, would work in Houston, but longtime friends insisted that it would. After the Rockets were sent home again from the playoffs, rumors began to fly that the two were not happy in Houston and wanted both out.
But after forming his entire team around Harden, who won MVP honors in 2018, the Rockets were not interested in partnering with him. The move could be the new general manager Rafael Stone’s way of appeasing Harden, so the Rockets can continue their quest for a title this season rather than rebuild without a superstar. Stone was promoted to GM last month after Darle More stepped down before taking a job with the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Westbrook-Wall deal works under NBA rules because both players are owed the same amount: each receiving more than $ 80m over the next two seasons, plus each with more than $ 45m for 2022–23 The player has the option. And both wanted to move forward.
Wall, ranked No. 1 overall from Kentucky in the 2010 draft, became the face of the franchise for Washington, a five-time All-Star who repeatedly helped his team make it to the playoffs.
But the Wall Wizards never won 50 in a season or made it past the conference semifinals. Wall, who is 30, has 19 points and 9.2 assists for his career.
He has been troubled by injuries of late, appearing in only 41 games in 2017-18, following left knee surgery, then just 32 in 2018-19 due to a left heel problem that required an operation. While recovering from that, Wall tore his remaining Achilles tendon and sat out all of last season.
Hall of Famer Magic Johnson believes the pair of Beal and Westbrook will be what the Wizards contenders need in the Eastern Conference.
“Everybody has to watch out for wizards now! He did business for Russell Westbrook today, ”Johnson tweeted. “(Westbrook) / (Beal)? Will terrorize the East and make the Wizards a playoff team.”
Wall was beloved in Washington and team owner Ted Leonis praised the player and his contribution to the team and the city in a series of tweets on Wednesday night.
“He has been a great, all-star caliber player and a brilliant citizen and leader in our community,” Leonis wrote. “I am proud of how hard John has worked to get back into the league after two years of competition. Our fans, our franchisees and I will miss him a lot. “