Can John Wall be a sufficient running mate for James Harden in Houston? (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
- The Rockets have traded for John Wall, sending Russell Westbrook to Houston in an exchange of All-Star point guards
- Russ spent just one year in Houston, while Wall hasn’t played in an NBA game since December of 2018
- The Rockets Championship odds tumbled after making the move from +3100 to +7000
There had previously been speculation that the Houston Rockets were willing to trade Russell Westbrook after he voiced his displeasure with the organization. It became a complete reality on Wednesday, as Westbrook was traded to the Wizards in exchange for John Wall and a first-round pick, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
James Harden has also made it clear that he’d like to be traded to a contender, preferably the Brooklyn Nets. But as of now, Houston officials have communicated that keeping their franchise star around for this season is their priority.
With the uncertainty around Wall’s status, the Rockets odds in the NBA Championship race have plummeted, down to +7000.
2021 NBA Championship Odds
|Los Angeles Lakers||+300|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+550|
Odds taken from FanDuel on Dec. 2nd
Risky Move for Houston By Acquiring Wall
John Wall has proven over the years to be one of the most electric scorers in the league. But after tearing his Achilles in January of 2019, the 30-year old has yet to return to action. He’s finally back to full health and ready to play this season, but it’s very tough to know what to expect from Wall because he’s dealt with his fair share of injuries.
The five-time All-Star has three years and $132 million remaining on his current deal, and it’s really unknown if Wall will find his previous dominance on the court after suffering one of the worst injuries imaginable.
Career averages of 19 points, 9.2 assists, and 4.3 rebounds are certainly encouraging, especially playing beside Harden. They’re both able to attack the basket and finish, while Wall was of the fastest players in the association prior to injury. His playmaking abilities should also complement his backcourt partner nicely.
It was clear that Westbrook wasn’t happy with being the second fiddle in H-Town. But there’s also no evidence that Wall will be content with this either, especially after many years of being the franchise star in DC.
2021 NBA Rookie of the Year Odds Tracker
Harden Looks Set to Stay for Now
The Rockets continue to make it clear that a trade for Harden is not on the table. After shipping off Russ, it seems unlikely they will send the bearded one elsewhere before the season gets going.
Rockets source: Stance on James Harden has not changed. Houston hopes to be competitive with him this season and does not envision a scenario where Harden would be traded before the opener.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) December 3, 2020
There’s a possibility that Harden and Wall co-exist wonderfully together. If this did happen, Houston’s franchise star could change his mind about staying with the Rockets if he sees them making progress, especially after acquiring two bigs in Christian Wood and DeMarcus Cousins.
As for Wall, the former Wizards star could pick up right where he left off. We really don’t know at this point. But going off history, only one player ever has returned to his previous form after an Achilles tear and that was Dominique Wilkins. Maybe Wall could be the second.
Honestly, the only way I see Harden leaving Houston at this point is if his new co-star ends up being a massive disappointment.
Although Wall is used to being the main man with the ball always in his hands, I honestly believe he’ll just be happy playing basketball again. With both players proving to be top-notch scorers and facilitators, I actually have a good feeling this new partnership may just work out after all.
Quinn Allen is a sports journalist, with a background and education in broadcast journalism (BCIT ’17). He writes about European Football, Basketball, and Baseball for numerous sites across the globe.