NBA Rumors: Lakers' Russell Westbrook Only 'Realistic' Trade for Rockets' John Wall

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 25, 2022

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 23: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles the ball during the game against the Miami Heat on January 23, 2022 at FTX Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook is reportedly the only "realistic" target for the Houston Rockets if they want to move guard John Wall before the 2022 NBA trade deadline on Feb. 10.

Marc J. Spears of ESPN's The Undefeated reported the update Tuesday on The Hoop Collective podcast (23-minute mark):

"I was told that they have a couple on the table, several on the table, but the only one that's really has some, you know, realistic potential to it is with the Lakers for Russ. They actually make, I don't know if it's nearly to the same dollar, but a similar salary, so you can trade them one-for-one without including anybody else. That 2027 Laker pick that you mentioned before, that first-round pick, seems to be pretty coveted, and I would expect it to be included in such a deal. But John's in Miami. He's been working out. He actually asked the Rockets for permission to be in Miami so he could be near his kids and focus on working out."

Spears added that there are other options on the table for the Rockets but said they are long shots in terms of getting a deal done. He also noted it's unclear whether Westbrook would accept a lesser role in Houston if a blockbuster swap is made:

"I've basically have heard that there's a couple other possibilities, but they're more pie-in-the-sky possibilities, and it's not out of the realm of possibility for this one to happen. To me, I think that as of today, this is the only trade for John Wall. If it happens, and Westbrook does come back, the Rockets get somebody that at least they know. So, I was told that they would be open-minded, as crazy as this may sound, for him to play with this team, but it would be under the same circumstances that they asked Wall to do where it would probably be coming off the bench. So, would Russell Westbrook want to come off the bench for the Rockets? I think he loves playing, loves basketball and would get minutes. It just would be an off-the-bench thing that he's never done in maybe his whole life. I don't know if maybe he did that at UCLA. But if not and they make that acquisition, then perhaps they do the same thing they're doing with Wall where he just stays in L.A. and works out and they try to figure something out in the offseason."

Wall has yet to play for the Rockets during the 2021-22 season while awaiting a potential trade.

In November, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported there were discussions about the five-time All-Star possibly joining the team's rotation, but the sides were at odds about the type of role he would play upon his return, with the team preferring to remain focused on the future and giving its young core the lion's share of the minutes.

The veteran guard has more recently been in "constant communication" with the front office while in Miami "working on his conditioning and ramping up workouts" in case a trade is worked out, per Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

Wall played well for the Rockets last season after being acquired from the Washington Wizards, fittingly in a deal that also featured Westbrook. He averaged 20.6 points, 6.9 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals across 40 appearances.

Trading him has proved difficult, however, in large part because of the two seasons left on his lucrative four-year, $171 million contract, which includes a $47.4 million player option for next season.

Meanwhile, the Lakers acquired Westbrook from the Wizards as part of an offseason roster overhaul that hasn't delivered the desired results. Los Angeles owns a 23-24 record and has yet to look like a title contender for any extended stretch of time.

Superstar forward Anthony Davis is nearing a return from a knee injury, which will move L.A. closer to its desired rotation and give the front office a couple weeks to assess the situation with Westbrook, Davis and LeBron James in the lineup before the deadline.

If the Lakers continue to hover around .500, it's fair to wonder whether they would at least consider a Westbrook-for-Wall swap in search of a spark for the season's second half.

Should that idea not come fruition, it sounds like the Rockets may have to wait until the summer to see whether they can find a taker for the final year of Wall's contract.