Miller: What's driving the John Wall, Russell Westbrook trade rumors


The Wizards and Rockets have indeed had conversations about a potential trade involving John Wall and Russell Westbrook.

That much Chris Miller can confirm. NBC Sports Washington's Wizards Insider attempted to provide some context around the potential blockbuster, during his Wednesday appearance with The Sports Junkies.

"Both teams have had conversations. I can confirm that," Miller told 106.7 The Fan. "I just think the timing of this is just off. The last two years, what have we been hearing, really, from Wizards brass? Is that they want to build a younger team around Wall and Beal and run it back, to see if they can get back to that playoff form."

"And to see the tweet last night from Shams Charania about both teams in discussions, I just want to know what happened," he said. "Like, how did we get to this point? That's been kind of like my biggest question for the last couple of hours, reaching out to sources."

Miller strongly suspects a September incident — in which Wall was caught on camera throwing up gang signs at a party in New York City, for which he later issued a public apology — is a leading factor in these newfound trade talks.

"Listen, the incident that John had in Brooklyn is probably one of the reasons why this is probably being moved forward," said Miller. "Although John has apologized for it, that incident kind of rubbed a lot of people within the organization the wrong way. And again, to John's credit, he admitted he was wrong. He wants to move forward."

"So that was where I think all of this is kind of coming from," he went on to say. "And then plus, you have to remember, too, in the last two years what's happened with John being gone. Bradley Beal has become, in my opinion, an All-NBA type superstar, and what we saw last year with his ability to score the basketball at a high, high, high rate, and I think his leadership has grown. Brad is naturally a quiet young man, but he has really grown into that leadership role."

"And (Wizards GM) Tommy Sheppard has said in the last couple of press availabilities that this team is moving forward building around Brad," Miller continued. "Now you're seeing why those conversations with Houston and Washington have happened now, because I think that the organization is ready to kind of hand Brad the keys to the franchise."

"So when you say that didn't sit well with the organization, I totally get it," Junkies host Eric Bickel said. "I mean basically what you're saying is that didn't sit well with Tommy and with Ted, right? I mean who else could it be?"

"Correct. Those two were not happy about that, from what I've been told," Miller confirmed. "And again, none of us walk on the earth perfect, but that was not a good look on his part."

As for which factors conspired to bring these talks to the forefront, Miller describes the situation as a near "perfect storm," citing that both Wall and Westbrook's remaining contracts are almost identical. Both have three years remaining on their respective deals, each of which are valued at approx. $132 million (give or take roughly $300K).

"I guess it would be pretty much the perfect storm of events," Miller said, "the fact that Westbrook would be available, they have matching contracts, and them looking at potentially a fresh start."

It's perhaps no coincidence this report dropped on the eve of the NBA Draft. The Wizards hold the ninth overall pick Wednesday evening, while the Rockets are picking 16th overall.