Report: Rockets willing to wait on John Wall trade until 2022 offseason

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Though the plan is now public knowledge, it appears that the formal parting of ways between the Houston Rockets and veteran guard John Wall might drag out until the NBA’s next offseason in mid-2022.

While Wall will report to training camp with the Rockets in late September and be available as a mentor to younger players, the five-time All-Star is not expected to play in any games. Moreover, it appears that the unique arrangement could last for the entire season, if needed.

Via Danielle Lerner and Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

According to a person with knowledge of the situation, there are no talks of a buyout and the Rockets are unlikely to move Wall before the trade deadline barring an injury to a team that suddenly needs help at the guard spot. The Rockets are “leaning into the future,” the source said, and want to help Wall land at a desirable spot while remaining open to acquiring players that can help them win now.

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The problem, of course, is the combination of Wall’s extensive injury history in recent years and his large contract, which calls for him to be paid more than $91 million over the next two seasons.

With two full years left, it appears that NBA teams see Wall as a negative value on his current contract. Yet, while the Rockets understandably want to give more minutes and touches to younger players, it doesn’t make sense for a rebuilding team to attach major draft assets to Wall to find a taker for him, since those picks are considered crucial to the rebuild. Even if trading Wall could create salary cap flexibility in 2022, that’s probably not that desirable to general manager Rafael Stone, since a rebuilding team isn’t likely to be all that attractive to veteran free agents.

Thus, the better scenario — and particularly if Wall is on board with the plan and willing to sit out for the sake of Houston’s rebuilding strategy, as he appears ready to do — is to simply delay a trade until NBA teams view Wall’s value more favorably. That could happen as soon as next February’s trade deadline, if another team needs to fill an injury hole and/or if rival owners become less reluctant to take on the 31-year-old’s salary, once a large chunk of his 2021-22 payments are completed. It’s also possible that the concerns over Wall’s injury history could go down, since teams wouldn’t need him to play a full season at that later date.

But if it takes waiting until Wall is in the last year of his contract for a trade to reasonably be made, it appears that Stone and Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta are willing to do just that. Even if it means paying his full season salary of nearly $45 million to not play in any games.

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Report: Rockets won't include first-round draft pick to trade John Wall

Why John Wall and the Rockets want to part ways, and what comes next

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List

Player salaries for the Houston Rockets in 2021-22, future seasons