When the Houston Rockets traded Russell Westbrook for John Wall this past offseason the Rockets were taking a risk. Wall and Westbrook were players who both had negative trade value, largely due to their massive, nearly identical, contracts that when combined with a decline in production made them nearly untradeable.
However, the reasons for their decline are where the two diverge. Westbrook’s advanced age has been the culprit for his struggles, while Wall’s litany of injuries has prevented him from being at his best over the past four seasons.
The idea behind why the Rockets decided to gamble on Wall’s health over the certainty of Westbrook’s healthy decline phase is that there was a belief that a healthy John Wall had a better chance at getting back to his best. After all, Wall is still only 30-years-old and when he was last fully healthy he made an All-NBA team.
Unfortunately, that final healthy season came back in 2016-17, and with the news that he’ll need another knee scope at some point in the near future, his injury history has become a growing problem. Wall’s long history of leg injuries has to be of the utmost concern to the Rockets going forward, as his contract is not going anywhere.
Houston Rockets: John Wall’s lengthy injury history
Since 2016-17, John Wall has missed more games due to injuries than he has played. Over this period, Wall’s teams have played a total of 286 games, while he has suited up for a grand total of 105 of them.
Wall has only featured in 36.7-percent of his teams’ games, which would be a great 3-point shooting percentage for him, but is absolutely devastating for a player on a supermax contract. The most concerning part of Wall’s injury history is where he has had his injuries.
He has had five left knee injuries, two right knee injuries, and one heel and Achilles injuries. These have amounted to five separate surgeries with a sixth surgery coming sometime later this year.
The Rockets gambled that after 18 months away from NBA basketball John Wall would be physically able to handle the rigors of an NBA season. Perhaps the condensed nature of this season is the culprit for Wall’s continued injury problems, but in all likelihood, this is who Wall will be for the rest of his career.
The Rockets will need to manage Wall’s body to get the best out of him going forward. His contract is going nowhere and getting the most out of him is the only way they’ll have a chance to move him in the future.
If the Rockets can’t figure out a way to manage Wall’s minutes then a seventh surgery is likely headed his way. Injuries are the worst part of professional sports, with their influence looming over every franchise at every moment, hopefully the Rockets and Wall can find a way to keep him on the court.