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

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Though the Rockets and veteran point guard John Wall agreed to part ways, it doesn’t appear that a resolution will come soon. According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, Houston general manager Rafael Stone is not currently willing to include a first-round draft pick to facilitate a move.

“Sources said the Rockets do not want to give up first-round draft compensation in a Wall trade and would not have interest in discussing a buyout until possibly after free agency next summer,” says MacMahon, who confirmed that Houston’s decision not to play Wall in the 2021-22 season is built in large part on a desire to have young prospects Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green as the team’s starting backcourt.

“Team management and Wall mutually decided that a bench role for him wouldn’t be beneficial to either party,” reports MacMahon. Confirming other reports, MacMahon says Wall is expected to report to training camp with the Rockets in late September and remain around the team.

“The hope is that his wisdom and leadership can still help Porter, Green, and other young players,” MacMahon tweeted.

Given Wall’s extensive injury history in recent years and a large contract that has him poised to make over $91 million over the next two seasons, a trade isn’t easy at this time — unless the Rockets are willing to include future first-round draft assets as sweetener to offset those concerns. However, considering Houston’s rebuilding status after trading James Harden, it wouldn’t make sense for Stone to surrender any of his prized draft assets if the only upside is salary cap flexibility.

After all, even if the Rockets could create cap room in the 2022 offseason (a year prior to Wall’s contract expiration date in 2023), they aren’t likely to be an attractive destination to veteran free agents at that time.

Thus, even though Wall isn’t viewed as a good fit for Houston’s current roster, the Rockets are attempting to stall trade talks until Wall is owed less money and is viewed as less of a negative asset. Fortunately for the team, it appears Wall is on board with that strategy, as well.

One reason for that could be Wall’s trust that Stone and the organization will work with him on a satisfactory outcome. MacMahon writes:

Rockets sources emphasized that the franchise makes it a priority to try to “do right” by veterans who seek to play for more competitive situations, citing trading Harden and forward PJ Tucker to contenders last season as primary examples.

It appears that Wall’s affinity for the organization is matched by the Rockets, with MacMahon reporting that the team greatly appreciates Wall’s positive leadership since his Houston arrival in December 2020.

So until the market is right, it appears that Wall and the Rockets are prepared to wait it out — even if it takes considerable time.

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