John Wall to the Clippers? There may be mutual interest

fourteen months ago John Wall had 27 points and 13 assists to make up for a poor three-point shooting night in Houston with nine free throw attempts. He completed two dunk pickpocket steals in an open-court blast that defined his multi-year streak. Performances at the All-Star Game to heel and Achilles tendon injuries.

After that, according to friend and rival, he received the same appreciation few in the league offered, playing in just 113 games in the previous four seasons combined.

“He’s someone I’ll always root for” Clippers wing Paul George said that night. “He’s like a brother to me and I’m very happy to see him back on the floor doing what he loves to do and continuing to put on the plays everyone loves him for.”

Since then, Wall hasn’t made any more appearances on the NBA court since Houston was so eager to create backcourt opportunities for his young defensemen that he paid the 31-year-old Wall his $44 million salary to stay out last season. This exile is reportedly nearing completion. Ahead of Thursday’s free agency, Wall and the Rockets are reportedly in talks to buy out the $47 million that Wall will earn if he exercises his option on the player next season.

The total ransom for such a deal can be staggering, and there is a wait and see approach to whether it actually materializes. Should Wall become available, it’s worth keeping the relationships, track record, and needs of the last opponent he faced in mind when considering the next team Wall might join.

It was last week when Lawrence Frank, Clippers president of basketball, described George and his co-star Kawhi Leonard as actively involved in discussions with executives about building a roster, and Frank called their opinions passionate and “very, very valuable.”

If the front office reaches out to these stars about Wall, history will tell what George’s response might be.

Wall and George trained at the same facility before each was selected in the first round of the 2010 draft. They trained together for the US team. In 2017, Wall openly tried to recruit George, then in Indiana, to Washington.

“We both had a similar path, we started leading our organizations, we had serious injuries and setbacks,” George said in April 2021. But I love John. John and I go back to when we first started playing in the league. I saw him train, he saw me train, and we had a mutual respect and connection from the very beginning.”

Any decision on Wall could have an impact on retaining the Clippers’ own free agents, which Frank has called his highest priority. Byrd’s early rights to Nicholas Batum allow the team to go over the salary cap to re-sign him, while they don’t have Byrd’s rights to backup center Isaiah Hartenstein, a popular addition to last year’s dressing room whose market value could top the taxpayer. A mid-tier elimination is projected to cost around $6.4 million.

Frank noted that the NBA had shifted to offense initiated by both experienced wingers and traditional point guards, which matched the ability of Leonard and George. However, league watchers expect the team to try to solidify its role as the top ball carrier in some way. The question is how high will the current version of the Wall stand, 14 months from now, on any list of goals. If Wall is available at a buyout discount, he becomes the subject of much more serious discussion in the league, because even during his long absence from the NBA, Wall’s more serious blow was always associated with the exorbitant cost of his maximum salary than with his game.

That’s not to say there’s no question about his fitness to consistently contribute to 32 next season. Wall’s through speed and first-pitch speed puts the defense at bay, creating either rim shots for himself or arc shots for teammates, and would presumably fit coach Tyronne Liu’s attacking philosophy. this explosion remains.

June 21 University of Miami Coach Jim Larranaga. tweeted a picture with Wall, thanking him for using the Hurricanes’ training facility. Larranaga’s son, Jay, is a member of Liu’s coaching staff, who has taken over distressed, impaired assets over the past two seasons and earned significant dividends, sparking a late-career resurgence of previous signings Batum and Reggie Jackson, who arrived as George’s longtime friend lay in wait for for injuries.

How much the Clippers will eventually court Wall, how favorably he treats them, and how long challengers will be willing to wait if his buyout talks drag on after he starts as a free agent remains more confusing than clear. But if there is harassment, the track record of the coaching staff will be a strong factor in any confidence that Wall can become, as George once approvingly said, a player who “keeps playing the games everyone loves him for.”