John Wall won’t play for the Houston Rockets, now what?

Houston Rockets v Miami Heat
Houston Rockets v Miami Heat / Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, John Wall won’t play again for the Houston Rockets. The Rockets and Wall are committed to finding him a new home. The plan is to have him at training camp but not playing in any games. The five-time All-Star has battled injuries over the past four seasons and his gargantuan contract has made him one of the most difficult players in the league to move. Will the Rockets be able to trade Wall, or does this agreement mean a buy-out is on the horizon? 

Can the Houston Rockets trade John Wall?

If the Rockets could have traded John Wall over the summer they likely would have. That doesn’t mean that there is absolutely zero interest in Wall’s services, but it indicates that teams were likely asking for sweeteners to take him on. The crux of the issue is Wall’s contract. Wall is owed $44.3 million this season and has a $47.3 million player option for 2022-23. Regardless of talent, there are only a handful of teams that can take on that type of money without jettisoning most of their quality players. 

The New York Knicks looked like a decent landing spot but they used their cap space this summer and look poised to pursue Damian Lillard if and when he becomes available. The Clippers have long sought an established point guard to pair with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George but Leonard’s ACL likely ended any real interest. 

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The teams that would be the most likely trade partners are the teams that missed out on signing one of Mike Conley, Chris Paul, and Kyle Lowry. Both the Pelicans and Mavericks were interested in signing Lowry and could be motivated to bring Wall into the fold. However, Wall’s lack of shooting would make him an awkward fit with both teams. 

If there is a John Wall trade partner it likely isn’t an obvious team. If it had been obvious, then Wall would already be there. Look for the Rockets to do their due diligence, but a trade, at this point looks unlikely. 

Will the Houston Rockets buy out John Wall?

Buying out John Wall looks like the most likely option at this point. Wall’s problem isn’t that he’s an un-rosterable player. His problem is that he costs a fortune. This season he will be the second-highest-paid player in the league. If Wall cost half of that he’d have suitors. While buying out John Wall feels like a bad decision, it is painless for anyone other than Tillman Fertitta. 

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The Rockets aren’t a contender this season so it’s better for him to burn a hole in their checkbooks as opposed to taking up a roster spot. The real question is, how much money is Wall willing to lose to get out of Houston? If he’s willing to eat a sizable amount of his deal then the situation should be painless. However, if he wants all of the $91.6 million still owed him, then things could get ugly.