Report: Rockets, John Wall pushing for trade by 2022 NBA draft

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The Houston Rockets and veteran guard John Wall are reportedly hoping for a trade by the 2022 NBA draft, and if one doesn’t materialize, Wall would like a contract buyout prior to the start of July free agency.

Wall, 31, has earned All-Star honors five times over his distinguished career. Yet, he did not play for Houston in 2021-22. With an emphasis on rebuilding and developing prospects, the Rockets chose to prioritize starting minutes at point guard for 21-year-old Kevin Porter Jr., and Wall was clearly not keen on accepting a limited role with backup minutes.

As of Thursday, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report has the latest:

If the Rockets are unable to find a trade for Wall before the June 23 NBA draft, all signs now point to Houston and Wall’s representation revisiting buyout talks prior to free agency in July. In that event, Wall would become an unrestricted free agent, and the Clippers, along with the Miami Heat, have been mentioned by league sources as strong potential landing spots for him.

From Houston’s perspective, a trade is clearly preferable to a buyout, since it would allow the team to recoup at least some value for Wall. That’s likely a big reason that buyout talks with Wall did not occur last season, since the Rockets would not have wanted to prematurely close the trade window prior to letting him walk for no compensation.

It’s certainly possible that Wall, who will be in the final year of his contract, could have more trade suitors as an expiring salary than he would have last season — when two years and approximately $92 million were left on his deal. But for both sides, it makes sense to set the June 23 draft as a deadline of sorts before moving on to buyout talks.

For Wall, if a buyout was delayed until later in the offseason and after the initial wave of signings in free agency, it’s possible that his rumored suitors (Clippers, Heat) might acquire alternative options and no longer have interest. For the Rockets, letting Wall go prior to free agency would open up another roster spot to potentially use in their pursuit of players who are a better fit with the organization’s rebuilding timeline.

Most NBA insiders have long seen a buyout as the likely resolution, with an emphasis on when, not if. It appears that still remains the case, and the “when” is prior to the first wave of 2022 free agency in July.

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