The Brooklyn Nets may be near the top of the Eastern Conference standings, but there’s a glaring issue that needs to be addressed. Kevin Durant’s the reason why Brooklyn is in its current position, and in the absence of Kyrie Irving, the Nets will need to eventually make a trade. No matter how good KD is, he can’t continue to carry the majority of the weight alone, especially on a team that doesn’t play good defense.
If Irving was vaccinated and on the court at Barclays Center, the narrative surrounding Brooklyn’s first 16 games of the season would be completely different. Durant is second in the NBA with 28.6 points per game, to along with 7.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists. He’s averaging 34.6 minutes per game, and at this rate, who knows the condition that he’ll be in when the playoffs start in April.
James Harden isn’t in his usual form. He’s averaging 20.2 points per game, which isn’t enough. Golden State figured that out on Tuesday whenever Durant went 0-for-8 in the third quarter due to Draymond Green’s defense. No other player stepped up while KD was struggling, which is why the Warriors were able to pad their lead to 22 points.
What could have changed the outcome of Brooklyn’s five losses? Maybe the guard that averaged 26.9 points and six assists last year? Probably! Nonetheless, if Irving refuses to get vaccinated or the city mandate isn’t lifted soon, the Nets need to explore other options. What move makes the most sense right now? No, not Ben Simmons. How about John Wall?
The Brooklyn Nets need to make a push for veteran point guard John Wall.
Wall is in his second year with Houston, but he’s not going to play for the Rockets this season. In September, both Wall and Houston agreed to work on finding a trade destination for the point guard. It’s now over two months later, and according to ESPN NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, there’s still no plan for Wall to play this season AND the likelihood of him playing for another team has greatly decreased. It’s gotten to the point where a buyout is a possibility (though very unlikely), which would help the Nets even more.
So, right now, the Rockets are paying Wall to wear street clothes and sit on the sideline. That sounds sort of familiar, except Irving isn’t allowed to attend Brooklyn’s home games and has been asked to remain away from the team. It’d make the most sense for the Nets to let go of any hope that Irving will play in a game this season. In that case, we need to ask: what’s the likelihood of Brooklyn landing Wall?
Well, for starters, the Nets would have to let go of Irving. Wall’s contract complicates things though, but Brooklyn doesn’t have much time to waste. The trade deadline isn’t until Feb. 10, and honestly, the Nets can’t wait that long. They would need to find a way to acquire Wall sooner rather than later, but it’ll be easier said than done.
The five-time All-Star is set to be paid $91.7 million over the course of this year and the next, which includes his player option for $47.4 million during the 2022-23 season that he’s unwilling to surrender. Wall’s the third-highest paid player in the league this year. His contract situation is what’s making a buyout so complicated. That’s simply too much money for both sides to find a middle ground. It’ll cost the Rockets too much and Wall won’t be getting enough.
As suspected, the Nets aren’t in a great place with Irving not in the starting lineup. And frankly, Wall would be a fit in Brooklyn. In the 40 games that he played in last year in his first season with the Rockets, he averaged 20.6 points and 6.9 assists. His playing style is similar to Irving’s, but he’s even more of a facilitator, averaging 9.1 assists per game for his career.
The Nets may not need another superstar-caliber player to replace Irving, but they need a starting point guard. There’s no question. Patty Mills was signed to be the sixth man, not a key cog in the starting five — his presence was supposed to be a luxury. Wall, on the surface, has the traits to fill the gap here. He’d move fast in this offense, get the ball to the open shooter, and attack the rim.
It might be a pipe dream, but it’s hard to believe there’s no way this situation gets resolved. And if the Nets don’t plan on keeping Kyrie after this season, why not try and trade for Wall to help the Rockets accelerate the process? It’s really not that insane, especially when you have nothing to lose and Irving isn’t playing a minute should everything remain the same.