The Houston Rockets will hold on to John Wall and his $47 million contract into the first couple weeks of July (at least) in the unlikely event that a trade materializes that requires his massive salary (hello there Russell Westbrook!).
However, after that Wall and the Rockets are on a path to figuring out a buyout, something Marc Stein discussed in his latest substack newsletter (seriously, you need to subscribe to this, it’s been a year).
This week marked the first time in some time that I heard serious murmurs about Wall successfully negotiating a buyout with the Rockets after his season on the sidelines — provided Houston remains unable to find a trade partner on a Wall deal.
It is still unclear, with Wall presumed to be essentially untradeable when he’s due $47.4 million next season, how much of that salary he would have to surrender in buyout talks to convince the Rockets to let him become a free agent. The latest Wall-related scuttle does, however, suggest that a pathway for the sides to get there is at last materializing.
Interest in Wall from the Clippers and Heat, if he can finally make his way onto the open market, has been mentioned for months. I’ve likewise been advised that the Lakers — resistant as they remain to trading Russell Westbrook to Houston for Wall by attaching draft capital as a sweetener for the Rockets — would consider Wall as a candidate for the roster if he is suddenly available via the buyout market.
Wall and the Rockets reaching a buyout is only logical and has been expected this summer for that reason. How much money he would be willing to surrender to get out of Houston and back on the court is an interesting question. Still, any haircut he is willing to take helps the bottom line — $5 million may not seem like a lot on a $47 million contract (or in today’s NBA marketplace), but it’s still a lot of money on the bottom line.
As for where Wall goes next, it’s about fit and what he wants, not money — none of the teams mentioned can offer more than the veteran minimum.
If Wall wants a role on a team that can contend for a ring, both the Clippers and Heat make sense — and both need a veteran point guard, one who can step into a floor general role (likely off the bench). The Lakers have LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and while they may not be contenders as you read this right now, let’s see how the Kyrie Irving drama plays out before we write them off. Plus, some guys like playing with LeBron.
One way or another, look for Wall and the Rockets to reach an expensive but amicable divorce next month.