Houston Rockets trade of John Wall to the New York Knicks #1
The Atlanta Hawks exposed the Knicks’ glaring need for playmaking and shot creation from their backcourt. No playoff team, in 2021, should be starting Derrick Rose to keep their offense afloat, but that’s exactly the position the Knicks found themselves in.
John Wall offers the Knicks a true playmaking point guard and Eric Gordon would provide depth in the backcourt. As promising as RJ Barrett’s and Immanuel Quickley‘s seasons were, they are still young and developing.
A backcourt rotation of Wall, Gordon, Barrett, and Quickley features a nice mix of youth, experience, and complementary skills. Wall and Barrett can start and finish games, while Gordon and Quickley would give the Knicks one of the best backup backcourts in the league.
The financial commitment the Knicks would be making would be sizable as Wall and Gordon will combine to make $58.1 million next season but the Knicks currently only have $54.8 million of salary on their books, which includes Julius Randle’s $19 million in salary. In return for the Knicks cleaning up the Rockets’ books they’ll get the Brooklyn Nets’ 2022 first-round pick.
On the Rockets’ side of the spectrum, the Knicks will send Obi Toppin and Kevin Knox to Houston. Both players were selected in the top-10 but their careers have not gotten off to roaring starts.
As discussed earlier, Knox, to this point, is playing his way to the Euro League and Obi Toppin had an anonymous rookie season. Toppin started zero games and averaged 11 minutes a game in 62 appearances.
Toppin, in very limited action, shot well from inside the arc but if he isn’t expected to feature in Tom Thibodeau’s plans then he’s someone they should move on from. Remember, Toppin was a late bloomer and is already 23-years old.
Players who enter the NBA that late and don’t contribute much in their rookie season don’t tend to have stellar careers. The Rockets would be gambling that Toppin has more upside than he showed and that his poor rookie season came down to a lack of opportunity as opposed to a lack of ability.
The Rockets haven’t drafted in the first-round since 2015 which means they need to continue to be aggressive going after young talented players as they did with Kevin Porter Jr. This trade improves the Knicks backcourt substantially, gives them an extra draft pick, and all they have to do is part with two players who averaged a combined 22 minutes a game last season.
The Rockets land two former lottery picks who will be given every opportunity to succeed, open up a tremendous amount of cap space, and all they have to do is part with a draft pick that’s likely to be in the high 20s.
As a final note, If the Knicks want more salary relief then the Rockets should be quick to take on the remaining $6.4 million left on Joakim Noah’s deal. It’s unlikely that this deal will be the first move the Knicks look to make, but it represents a good short-term move to keep them in the playoff picture and it gives the Rockets the youth they’ve been missing the past half-decade.