Houston Rockets: Why the Knicks aren’t trading for John Wall

N.B. Lindberg
Chicago Bulls v Houston Rockets
Chicago Bulls v Houston Rockets / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
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It’s no mystery that the Houston Rockets would love to trade John Wall. In September, the two parties agreed to a since broken arrangement where Wall would sit out games while the Rockets would look to trade him. 

The Rockets never engaged in meaningful trade conversations, and now Wall is asking for a return to the court. The situation requires a resolution and breaking news out of New York has given some optimism and caused the bogus rumor mill to start churning. 

In a press conference, New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said that Kemba Walker, the Knicks’ starting point guard, would be out of the rotation going forward. Suddenly, a playoff team is in need of a point guard, and the Rockets have had one ready to ship since yesterday. The only problem is that the Knicks aren’t going to trade for John Wall. 

Houston Rockets: The money doesn’t add up in a John Wall trade to the New York Knicks

The first hurdle that will impede a Wall to New York deal is money. Wall is owed $44.3 million, and the Knicks are over the cap. Before free agency, the Knicks had the type of cap space where adding Wall was possible (as documented here), but that changed when the franchise went on a spending spree worthy of a New Yorker. 

Related. Houston Rockets: 3 trades that send John Wall to the New York Knicks. dark

The team signed Alec Burks, Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose, Evan Fournier, Kemba Walker, and Nerlens Noel to multi-year deals, and they signed Julius Randle to an extension. All told, the Knicks added $63.5 million in salary for the 2021-22 season, and that doesn’t include the 4-year $117 million extension they gave Randle. 

The Knicks now find themselves over the salary cap, which means they have to send back roughly $44.3 million to Rockets just to fit John Wall into their books and be in line with NBA rules.  

To land Wall, the Knicks would have to trade multiple players because their highest salary this season is Julius Randle’s $19.8 million. The other issue is that the six highest earners on the Knicks cannot be traded until, at the earliest, December 15th, as they all recently signed deals. Derrick Rose cannot be moved until March 3rd, 2022 because he was signed with Bird rights, and Randle can’t be moved for six months because of his extension. 

The Knicks could wait two weeks and jettison three to four key contributors to land Wall, but that sounds more like fan-fiction more than a move any NBA GM would make.