The Houston Rockets have essentially been paying John Wall to hang out around the team and stay in shape this season, and it doesn’t appear that will change any time soon. As the trade deadline approaches, it remains unlikely that Wall will be traded or bought out, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Ahead of the season, the rebuilding Rockets met with Wall to explain that they wanted to go in a younger direction and planned to feature No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. in the backcourt. Wall, in turn, would sit out while the team looked to facilitate a trade that would send him to a more competitive situation. So far, though, that hasn’t happened due in large part to Wall’s massive salary.
He has two years and $91.7 million left on his contract — the final year of which is a player option that Wall will likely pick up. First and foremost, there’s the logistical problem where in order to match money in a trade, another team would either have to give up their own highly paid player (unlikely since those are primarily stars) or two-to-four moderately paid players (unlikely since no one wants to ruin their depth).
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Then there’s the fact that in a salary cap league, it’s very difficult to win when you use such a large percentage of your available money on a player who can no longer be one of the best players on a title team. It’s not that Wall is terrible — he put up 20.6 points and 6.9 assists per game last season — but after his extensive injury problems, he’s no longer the guy he was with the Washington Wizards. If Wall does get bought out at some point, teams would certainly be interested in him as a free agent, but no one is interested in paying him $44 million at this point in his career.
Unless something drastic happens between now and the Feb. 10 trade deadline, the most likely scenario is that Wall just sits out the entire season, which would be a bit of a shame considering how much time he’s missed already due to injuries.