There is a report on CBSSports.com this morning saying that John Wall may be a “healthy scratch” for the entirety of the NBA season. Wall wants out of Houston and the Rockets want to trade him. So, what’s the problem?
The problem is John Wall’s contract; he will make $44.3M this year and the contract has a player option next year for $47.4M; that means any team that acquires Wall is on the hook for $91.7M over the next two years for a player who is not nearly worth that kind of money. Even if Wall is 100% recovered from his Achilles tendon injury, his game is not what it was simply because of advancing age. John Wall succeeded because of his speed; at his best, he was arguably the fastest player in the NBA; that is not nearly the case today.
The other part of the current problem is that John Wall was never a good – let alone great – outside shooter; his offensive game remains good and maybe better than average, but it is not $91.7M worth of “good”. Defense was never Wall’s calling card so that is not going to entice any potential Rockets’ trading partner. Given his recent injury history, the Rockets do not want to play him lest he get hurt again; with no recent “game tape”, potential trading partners are not exactly lining up.
Back when John Wall was an All-Star for 5 consecutive seasons, you could say he was underpaid making $15-18M per year. However, that is not the case in 2021 and as usual, it is “the money” that creates the impasse here.
Sticking with the NBA, the league has retained an outside law firm to investigate allegations that the owner of the Phoenix Suns, Robert Sarver, created a toxic company culture, often using racist and sexist language in front of employees. [Aside: Do these allegations have any parallels in other sports? Hmmm…] Sarver says he welcomes the investigation as a way to clear his name. This story is in the early stage where there are flights of rhetorical fancy and reports of lurid behavior hitting the streets at least several times a week. To give you an idea of the rhetorical level at this time consider this statement from the NBA Communications Department:
“The NBA and WNBA remain committed to providing a respectful and inclusive workplace for all employees.”
Here is a statement from one of Sarver’s co-owners of the Suns’ franchise:
“The well-being and safety of every Suns employee, player, coach and stakeholder is first and foremost our priority. My sincerest sympathy goes out to all whose lives and professions have been impacted.”
In terms of reports about lurid behavior(s), some former and current Suns’ employees have alleged that Sarver showed pictures of his wife wearing a bikini and talking about instances where his wife had performed oral sex on him. [Aside: If Ms. Sarver were one of the complainants in the matter, I would agree at once that she was an aggrieved party.]
The NBA has a precedent for forcing the sale of a franchise based on troglodytic behavior by the franchise owner. Go to Wikipedia for a short bio on Donald Sterling to refresh your memory of the things he said and did that brought the league down on him. At this point in the story, I do not have nearly enough information to sense if the Sarver’s behavior is equivalent to – or possibly even worse than – Sterling’s behavior. The independent law firm hired for the investigation has only begun its work. However, it is not too early to pose a question about the end of the investigation:
- Will the NBA receive a written report from the law firm?
Moving on … Last year, the Tampa Bay Bucs set a precedent in the NFL being the first team ever to play in the Super Bowl in their home stadium. Next February, the Super Bowl will take place in SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles and that facility is the home field for both the Rams and the Chargers.
- Might this be the year when both teams in the Super Bowl will be playing a “home game”?
The Chargers have not looked great the past couple of weeks, but they have a very reasonable chance to be in the playoffs – – which is a sine qua non for playing in the Super Bowl. The Rams are 7-2 as of this morning and it would take a significant collapse on the Rams’ part for them to miss the playoffs. The Rams seem to recognize their potential for this season because with a variety of trades that brought players like Von Miller and Matthew Stafford to LA, the Rams have denuded themselves of draft picks for next year. The team seems to be echoing the sentiments of a Rams’ former coach, George Allen who famously had a sign on his desk saying:
“The Future Is Now”
I believe the Rams have only a fifth and a seventh-round pick in next year’s draft. That means the Rams’ scouting department will be looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack when the Rams finally get on the clock on Day Three of next year’s NFL Draft.
Finally, John Simon was the drama critic for New York magazine and the film critic for National Review. He has been called “The Vicar of Vitriol” for some of his criticisms. I will present one of them here and toss over in my mind how some of the Phoenix Suns’ employees might react if they had to read this sort of description of themselves:
“Barbra Streisand: Ms. Streisand looks like a cross between an aardvark and an albino rat surmounted by a platinum-coated horse bun. Though she has good eyes and a nice complexion, the rest of her is a veritable anthology of disaster areas. Her speaking voice seems to have graduated from the Brooklyn Conservatory of Yentaism, and her acting consists entirely of fishily thrusting out her lips sounding like a cabbie bellyaching at breakneck speed and throwing her weight around.”
Now that is what I would call “hostile”…
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………