The 2022 NBA draft is over, and attention now turns to free agency and the trade market en route to another potentially explosive offseason.
Two big names who could be on the move include Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook and Houston Rockets point guard John Wall.
Wall will reportedly pick his up, per Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic. He has played just 40 games since Jan. 1, 2019, because of a combination of injuries and an agreement with the Rockets to sit this season out as the team built around its younger core of talent. The Rockets clearly have moved on from Wall, even if he's still under contract with them.
Westbrook would presumably do so as well after coming off a down year with the Lakers in which he posted the worst player efficiency rating (15.0) of his 14-year career. L.A. struggled last season with a 33-49 record and missing out on the playoffs. The Lakers could look to move Westbrook after a disastrous season, and a fresh start could be best for both sides.
The question now is whether the Lakers and Rockets find trade partners to engineer moves for their respective stars. Three places stand out as potential landing spots for both.
ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported on the Rich Eisen Show that he believes the Miami Heat will "hunt stars" this offseason.
"I think they will be hunters," he said. "I do not think they will be satisfied with running it back. We'll see what opportunities may open themselves in the next couple of months."
Westbrook and Wall's best days may be behind them, but they are still stars in this league at their best.
As far as Miami goes, its lack of scoring depth came to light in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Jimmy Butler averaged 25.6 points per game. Bam Adebayo was second with 15.0 points per game, and no one else had 10 or more.
Granted, Tyler Herro missed most of the series with a groin injury, but the Heat could use another player who can complement Butler's offensive output.
Westbrook or Wall could help in that regard.
Granted, last season was a rough offensive showing for the 33-year-old Westbrook, but he's also one year removed from averaging a triple-double with 22.2 points per game for the 2020-21 Washington Wizards.
Wall, 31, also fared well during the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season with 20.6 points per game.
New York Knicks
There's been a revolving door at the Knicks' point guard position since Walt "Clyde" Frazier was calling plays in the 1960s and 1970s. It's a never-ending problem in the Big Apple, and it became one this year, too.
The Knicks acquired Kemba Walker but soon benched him, and Derrick Rose missed most of the season with injuries. By the end of the year, Alec Burks was playing out of position and handling the point, with Immanuel Quickley coming off the bench in relief.
New York also struggled offensively, with Julius Randle regressing from his All-Star form in 2020-21. The Knicks need some more help on that end and could use another playmaker (and some stability) at the point to get things going.
On the other end, the Knicks could obtain some future cap flexibility by picking up either Westbrook or Wall, both of whom have just one year left on their deals.
The key here, though, is that the Knicks are heavily rumored to be targeting Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson in unrestricted free agency.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the team is "working to clear salary-cap space for him," and that would coincide with the Knicks' moves on Thursday to move Kemba Walker off the books as well as trade their No. 11 overall pick.
HoopsHype contributor Yossi Gozlan provided details:
Yossi Gozlan @YossiGozlan
Knicks now projected to generate $18M in cap space after getting off Kemba Walker and the 11th overall pick. $16M is more realistic when keeping Mitchell Robinson's cap hold in mind so they can re-sign him after.<br><br>They're much closer to having enough cap space for Jalen Brunson. <a href="https://t.co/reLZGU28NM">https://t.co/reLZGU28NM</a>
However, the potential Brunson move could fall through, leading to the Knicks searching for other answers.
Perhaps Westbrook or Wall could be the short-term solution as the team looks to return to the playoffs after missing out last year.
The Utah Jazz are going in the wrong direction after earning the Western Conference's No. 1 seed in the 2020-21 playoffs. That campaign ended with a six-game loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round.
Expectations were high yet again in 2021-22, and the team started 27-10. However, they finished 22-23 and lost in six games in the first round of the playoffs to a Dallas Mavericks side that was missing superstar Luka Doncic in Games 1 and 2.
Utah is officially entering a new era with a to-be-determined coach taking over for Quin Snyder, who stepped down after eight seasons. Running it back with the same roster probably isn't going to cut it, even if the Jazz have an All-Star duo to build around in Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.
Mike Conley Jr. has been a steady and solid contributor at the point for Utah amid an excellent 15-year NBA career, but Wall or Westbrook would provide a more explosive dynamic to the team as it searches for its first NBA Finals appearance since 1998.