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Report: Pacers previously expressed interest in acquiring Rockets guard John Wall

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Prior to trading with Sacramento for young floor general Tyrese Haliburton, the Indiana Pacers reportedly showed interest in acquiring five-time All-Star guard John Wall. It is unclear whether that interest was via a trade with the Houston Rockets or after a potential contract buyout.

“League sources say that at least one other previously unreported team expressed interest in Wall this season: Indiana,” longtime NBA scribe Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack newsletter. “Sources say that the Pacers’ interest, though, was registered before they acquired Tyrese Haliburton from Sacramento and didn’t go any further.”

Wall averaged 20.6 points and 6.9 assists per game during a successful 2020-21 season in Houston. Now 31 years old, Wall did not play in the 2021-22 campaign, with the rebuilding Rockets focused on the development of 21-year-old prospect Kevin Porter Jr. at point guard. Wall was reportedly offered a backup role before declining that arrangement.

Though Wall still has value as a basketball player, the difficulty in finding him another NBA home likely has to do with his contract, which paid him $44.3 million this year and calls for him to be paid $47.4 million next season. That limits his suitors, since most teams with anywhere near that type of salary cap room are focused on younger options — and franchises above the cap (i.e. most) may lack the requisite matching salaries to make a trade work financially under the collective bargaining agreement.

For example, the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat reportedly have interest in Wall this offseason, but only in a scenario where the Rockets buy out his contract — since matching salaries would be difficult.

The Pacers no longer appear to be a fit for Wall, since Haliburton is a promising prospect at point guard who is substantially younger. But their registered interest during the season might offer hope that an off-the-radar suitor for Wall could emerge in the 2022 offseason, particularly now that his contract has only one season left on it.

The Pacers did have several expiring contracts this season (Ricky Rubio at $17.8 million, TJ Warren at $12.9 million, and Tristan Thompson at $8.9 million). So, in theory, they could have made the math work with Houston prior to the Feb. 10 trade deadline. While it is unclear from Stein’s report whether Indiana was offering to go to such an aggressive length, or if their interest was solely in the event of a buyout, a team like the Pacers might feel compelled to trade for Wall — since Wall would likely choose a contending team (such as the Clippers or Heat) if he became a free agent.

Houston Chronicle beat writer Jonathan Feigen reported shortly after deadline day that a trade sending Wall to a non-Lakers team (many reports at the time were speculating about a Wall-Russell Westbrook swap) came much closer than a deal with Los Angeles, but Feigen did not identify who that other team was. It’s possible that it was the Pacers.

Whatever the case, it seems unlikely that the Pacers will have interest in the 2022 offseason, given the positional overlap between Wall and Halliburton. But that anecdote might offer hope that another unexpected suitor could emerge in talks with Rockets general manager Rafael Stone.

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