NBA Rumors: John Wall Expected to Exercise $47.4M Rockets Contract OptionApril 7, 2022
Houston Rockets point guard John Wall is reportedly expected to pick up the $47.4 million player option in his four-year, $171 million contract for the 2022-23 NBA season.
Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reported the news Thursday and noted the Rockets will once again try to move Wall, who didn't play at all during the 2021-22 campaign while awaiting a trade, during the offseason before the sides consider buyout options.
The 31-year-old University of Kentucky product was always expected to pick up the option because he's not going to land a base salary anywhere near $50 million if he enters free agency, so the financially safe move was to lock in next season's contract and then reevaluate the landscape.
Ben DuBose of Rockets Wire told Scotto on the HoopsHype Podcast a buyout is "more likely" than a trade because Houston isn't interested in taking on bad contracts, which would probably be necessary to move Wall's salary to another team.
The Rockets have built a promising core led by Christian Wood, Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr., and they don't have any anchor contracts on their books beyond next season. So they want to maintain that financial flexibility as they try to turn a corner toward contention.
Meanwhile, with Houston focused on those building blocks, there's no path for Wall to play a significant role within the rotation. That's why the sides mutually agreed to keep him sidelined until a solution could be found.
The five-time All-Star still looked like a player who could make an impact for a contender during a 40-game stint with Houston in 2020-21. He averaged 20.6 points, 6.9 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 2.0 threes and 1.1 steals while playing 32.2 minutes per game.
In September, Rockets general manager Rafael Stone said the consensus among his NBA front-office counterparts is that Wall can still play at a high level.
"There's not a doubt in my mind about that, nor in other GMs'," Stone told reporters. "There's a lot of stuff that goes into constructing rosters, making everything work, that has nothing to do with how good you are. No one questions how good John is."
While the 2010 first overall pick can still make an impact, injuries late in his tenure with the Washington Wizards kept him from looking like the top-tier player he was in his prime.
Perhaps a season on the sidelines where he could focus on rest and recovery will help him bounce back, but there's too much uncertainty for any team to pay him $47.4 million next season, which is why a buyout is the likely endgame over the summer.
If Wall does hit the free-agent market, expect him to generate interest from several contenders if he's willing to sign a team-friendly, short-term deal.