Lowe: John Wall Trade Unlikely Before July 1 Due to 15% Trade Kicker in Contract

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistNovember 6, 2018

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 4: John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards shoots the ball against the New York Knicks  on November 4, 2018 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. 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 2018 NBAE (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)
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If the Washington Wizards are going to eventually break up their roster amidst a 2-7 start, trading the stagnating John Wall would be the sensible move. But given his contract, it's also unlikely.

Zach Lowe of ESPN.com broke down the numbers:

"A Wall deal before July 1 is unlikely in part due to complexities surrounding his 15 percent trade kicker—believed to be the first trade kicker that would be spread over the length of a supermax contract. Trade kickers cannot lift a player's salary above his maximum in the year he is traded, meaning Wall's payout could shrink if the Wizards trade him in 2019-20 once he shifts onto his supermax deal—and perhaps close to $0 in that 2019-20 season, sources say.

"If they trade him before then, they might owe him a giant lump sum, sources say. (Wall's 2018-19 salary of $19.2 million is well below his eligible maximum because he signed his current deal under a lower salary-cap figure.)"

As Lowe noted, Wall is holding back the Wizards in a few ways. For one, he's a mediocre 29.9 percent three-point shooter this season. He isn't as good of a ball-dominant player as, say, James Harden, because he's a far worse perimeter shooter who isn't effective off the ball and who doesn't get to the foul line as often.

Lowe also pointed out concerns about his conditioning, effort and defense. And while Wall remains a hyper-athletic transition threat and a player who can beat opponents off the dribble with ease, he isn't good enough to rely on that skill set. 

As Lowe wrote: "Wall is a lot like Russell Westbrook: explosive, lacking a reliable jumper, with a bad habit of turning into a statue off the ball. Westbrook is just way better." 

Wall's 21.2 points and 7.3 assists per game look good on paper. But his style is hurting the Wizards, an organization that owes him $169.3 million over four seasons starting in 2019-20. 

That contract will be borderline impossible to trade unless an opponent becomes desperate to add a point guard. But NBA teams will line up to land Bradley Beal or Otto Porter Jr., players the Wizards would be better served to build around than Wall.

Beal can play on or off the ball, is a vastly superior perimeter shooter (36.5 percent from three this season, 39.2 percent for his career) and is three years younger at age 25. And while he's owed $27.1 million next season and $28.7 million in 2020-21, that's far more palatable for a player of his ability than Wall's albatross contract.

The 6'8" Porter, meanwhile, is a 3-and-D wing in a league that craves them. His length and shooting (40.1 percent from three for his career) make him a plug-and-play addition for any team. He's also three years younger than Wall, and his $27.2 million contract next season (he also has a player option for $28.4 million in 2020-21) is prohibitive, which may limit his value on the open market, but it still offers a team far more flexibility than Wall's contract. 

Or as Lowe put it: "Trading Wall might be Washington's only get-out-of-jail card. Trading Beal would hurt the team. Porter wouldn't bring enough return to make a difference."

If that's the case, however, the Wizards might spend the 2018-19 season shackled, especially if they don't find a solution for their early-season woes.