John Wall
Robby Sabo, ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

There have been rumblings of John Wall’s availability league-wide. This doesn’t mean there’s a locker available with the New York Knicks. 

Collin Loring

The Washington Wizards are free falling out of contention, after signing point guard John Wall to a four-year extension worth $170 million.

Now, they’ve made the point guard, among other core players available in trade talks. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was first with the report.

“As the Washington Wizards’ season spirals, the franchise is making every player on its roster — including All-Star guards John Wall and Bradley Beal — available to discuss in trade scenarios, league sources told ESPN on Monday.”

As is always the case when any point guard becomes available, the Knicks were immediately linked to the former number one pick. Marc Berman of the New York Post reported rumblings of a potential deal being put together:

“Some in the league believe the Knicks are stocking up their young assets and will make a major play for Wall if he becomes available.”

The roller coaster of reports continued, as ESPN’s Ian Begley was quick to dismiss any Knicks interest in a John Wall deal:

Now, all is quiet on the trade front. Washington is 11-16 after dropping two games on the road, placing them 10th in the Eastern Conference.

The New York Knicks, even at 8-20, are better off without John Wall. His tenure is best lived out in Washington, watching New York thrive.

New York's Young Core

It started with Kristaps Porzingis. Then followed Frank Ntilikina, and most recently, Kevin Knox. These are the New York Knicks of the future. A future in which fans and the league alike would benefit from competitive basketball in Madison Square Garden.

It seems only a matter of time for the young Knickerbockers. Porzinigis is an All-Star big man with the handles of a point guard. Ntilikina has the defensive capabilities of an already mature and veteran guard. And Knox, with some work, will eventually be a sure-fire starter at the three/four position.

Still, those three pieces alone (at this point in time) don’t have the makings of a contending club.

A closer inspection into the Knicks core, and you’ll find Tim Hardaway Jr., a shooting guard who takes more threes than twos, a one-man offense. At the center position, Enes Kanter, a rebounding machine whose purpose on defense would be best served off the court.

Madison Square Garden’s last big name player was Carmelo Anthony, a now-journeyman searching for what may be the last team of his career. The Knicks are ready to embrace a new household name, with Real GM projecting New York to max out at $46.5 million in cap space next summer.

All things considered, things are looking up for the team’s future.

Yes, for those of you cleaning your glasses for the assurance you read the previous statement wrong; there are good things to come for New York basketball.

That path to better things can derail when you’re a front office trades youth cornerstones and draft picks for an aging star. Cue John Wall.

Washington's Aging Star

No one is saying the timeline for the Wizards days of competing is over. All I’m saying is that the timeline for John Wall is a lot different when removed from the system he’s grown up in.

At 28-years-old, the point guard is still playing some damn good basketball-albeit mostly on the offensive end. Wall is averaging 20.4 points, 8.3 assists, and 1.6 steals per game.

He’s already reminded the NBA this season of his offensive prowess with a 36-point performance against Houston:

Yet, something has seemed off about his play from the moment he rejoined the team for his 9th season.

Defensively, he’s showing a carelessness we haven’t seen from Wall previously.

His 8.3 assists are his lowest mark since 2013, and his three-point stroke has fallen to a .315 percentage on five attempts per game.

At this point in his career, Wall is more suited to compliment a contending team, not lead one. That’s without counting his new salary, which will pay him at least $38 million through 2023.

The New York Knicks need a leader. A truly commanding star, a veteran who’s showing no signs of rust, and no: I’m not talking about LeBron James.

Plan In Place

One name being linked to Madison Square Garden next summer is two-time champion Kevin Durant. Often remarked as the Los Angeles to his LeBron James, it seems the star may seriously consider a free agency meeting in New York next summer.

At 30 years old, Durant is still amidst his prime and contributing to a championship caliber team. Averaging 28.8 points, 6.2 assists, and 7.7 rebounds per game, he’s established himself as the league’s number two player.

For those scoffing at the thought of Durant playing for New York, think back to James signing with Los Angeles this summer. There are multiple parallels that can be drawn.

Last year’s Los Angeles Lakers: 

  • Finished 35-47, 11th in the Western Conference.
  • Featured multiple former lottery picks in Lonzo Ball, Julius Randle, and Brandon Ingram.
  • Were often tied to another star via trade, Paul George.

This year’s New York Knicks:

  • On pace to finish 33-49 at best.
  • Feature multiple former lottery picks in Frank Ntilikina, Kristaps Porzingis, and Kevin Knox.
  • Are now being tied to John Wall, another star, via trade.

The path to Kevin Durant, a generational star and marquee free agent does not lie in trading for John Wall. His contract, salary, and reoccurring health issues would halt all progress made.

In order to maintain their standings in the Durant sweepstakes (#1 if you’re asking me), New York must stray from the sweet-soon-to-turn-sour candy that is Wall and that heinous contract.


So, Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld.

From all of us in Knicks fandom, on Knicks Twitter, and hell, even those of us who just unknowingly don the logo.

John Wall and his contract are your mess to clean up. And the renter’s fee for MSG’s custodial supplies is one you can’t afford.

 

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