John Wall sat out every second of last season, at first agreeing to clear the path for the Rockets to play their youth but growing increasingly frustrated that he wasn’t traded or getting the chance to play in any role.
Wall is expected to pick up his $47.4 million contract extension for next season — Duh! — and the Rockets will hold on a little while to see if they can work out a trade with the Lakers for Russell Westbrook and his matching salary, but that is unlikely. Instead, the sides appear headed for a buyout, reports Jake Fischer at Bleacher Report, and the free agent suitors for Wall are already lining up.
If the Rockets are unable to find a trade for Wall before the June 23 NBA draft, all signs now point to Houston and Wall’s representation revisiting buyout talks prior to free agency in July. In that event, Wall would become an unrestricted free agent, and the Clippers, along with the Miami Heat, have been mentioned by league sources as strong potential landing spots for him.
Miami has a long history of rehabilitating players and putting them in positions to succeed, with Goran Dragic‘s performances in the last two playoff games a perfect example. Wall could be sold that he is the latest in that line, playing a role for a contender in a premiere market.
The Clippers’ takeaway from their exit in the play-in games was that even with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George returning for an entire season (*knock on wood*) they need more playmaking, particularly at the backup point guard spot (behind Reggie Jackson). Wall, if healthy, could be fit if he is willing to accept a 15-20 minutes a night role off the bench. The Clippers also enter next season as contenders and play in a premiere market.
The Heat and Clippers will not be the only teams knocking on his door. Wall would need to decide what matters to him — Minutes? Money? Touches? A ring? — and where he thinks he will be fit best. If he is willing to accept a smaller role, Wall could find himself playing in some high-profile games a year from now.