Rockets are stuck in a staring contest with John Wall and there’s no end in sight

Rockets are stuck in a staring contest with John Wall and there’s no end in sight

Sitting on the Wall.

Sitting on the Wall.
(Getty Images)

If you want to know who has the sweetest gig in America right now, look no further than John Wall of the Houston Rockets. Wall isn’t rehabbing an injury for the first time in years, he’s supposed to be 100 percent healthy, yet he has not suited up for one of Houston’s first 23 games this season.

Houston is unquestionably taking a different approach to moving on from a player they no longer have any use for. The Rockets told Wall to stay home before the season began and will pay him over $44 million this year. Overall the Rockets are on the hook for $91.6 million owed to Wall for this season and next. There hasn’t been much talk of either buying out the contract or trading Wall by the Rockets. The franchise seems content to sit back and wait until this season is over. Those on the outside seem to be more concerned with viable trade options for Wall than do the Rockets.

Wall didn’t play at all during the pandemic-interrupted season (2019-20) for the Washington Wizards. After being traded to Houston from Washington last year, Wall played in 40 games for the Rockets and showed that he still had some juice averaging 20.6 ppg and 6.9 apg. He may no longer be what he was a few years ago for the Wizards, but a healthy Wall can surely help a team win at this point in his career. Wall is five-time All-Star, an All-NBA, and All-Defensive team selection. He’s only 31 and should still have a few really good years left in him. Just maybe not at the current price tag of $44 million-plus.

At this point, it’s doubtful we will see a move by the NBA trade deadline in February. But this sit-back-and-do-nothing strategy the Rockets have adopted might be the best solution, and easiest way of finding a suitor for Wall next offseason. By telling Wall to stay home and collect his checks, the Rockets are, in a way, protecting his stock. While Wall’s stock may not be rising around the league in terms of potential trade value, it certainly can’t plummet either if he’s not on the court.

Beyond that, considering Wall’s recent history of injuries, if he’s not playing, he can’t get hurt. Well, not on the Rockets’ watch anyway. But the less he’s on the court, the less potential there is for him to pull up lame on a fastbreak, or come down funny after a dunk or rebound. Over the past couple of years, Wall has dealt with a heel injury, a torn Achilles, and multiple infections while rehabbing that Achilles injury. There was even the possibility that he could have lost his foot due to the infections.

So, for Houston, the approach they’ve taken could end up working out better for them in the long run, even if it seems ridiculous at the moment. The team wanted to rebuild and go younger after the James Harden debacle of last season. Now it just has to sit back and wait.

Oh, and they also need to figure out how they’ll handle all that money still owed to Wall. There aren’t too many teams lining up to pay that type of coin for a player coming off multiple serious lower extremity injuries like Wall. The Rockets’ next move should be a call to Danny Ainge to consult on how to swindle an NBA organization for everything it has. I’m not sure if there’s a happy ending at the end of this rainbow, but Houston probably shouldn’t drag this out too much longer. Active or not, nobody gets younger — players age whether they play or stay home. This is one thing every NBA general manager undoubtedly agrees on.

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.