Rockets' John Wall Motivated for 1st Game vs. Wizards: 'They Thought I Was Done'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJanuary 26, 2021

Houston Rockets guard John Wall advances the ball up court against the Dallas Mavericks during an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

Houston Rockets point guard John Wall will have no shortage of motivation when he plays the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.

He shared his thoughts about playing his old team for the first time since it traded him with Chris Miller of NBC Sports Washington: 

"I just wish I would have known up front and not have to beat around the bush to figure things out. That's just my motivation there. They thought I was done. Basically, that's how I feel. This is my opportunity to show them that I'm not done. But the most important thing for me is get the win. I don't care how many numbers I have, it's about getting the win. That's the most important thing because if I get 40 and then we lose, the trade don't look as bad from their aspect because they beat us that one game they did play us. So, my ultimate goal is to try to get a win for my team tomorrow."

The veteran guard also noted he felt the trade process wasn't something that happened "overnight."

"I feel like it was a whole process and it wasn't just something that happened overnight," Wall said, per Miller. "I think this was in the works. That's my motivation. Who wouldn't want to beat the team that traded them and felt like I was done?"

Wall said Tuesday's game will be personal and suggested the Wizards were not honest with him before dealing him to Houston in a trade that included Russell Westbrook going to Washington:

"Most importantly, all I really wanted from the start of all of it was just to be told the truth. That's the most important thing and what made it so hard for me to understand what was going on because I wasn't told the truth. I understand it's a business and things go on and people move on and you get traded, organizations in different ways. When I heard the rumors, I called and asked are these true or are these something not to worry about? From that day forward, all I heard was 'no, those rumors aren't true, don't worry about it.' In all reality, it was true."

It wasn't that long ago that Wall was considered the franchise building block for Washington.

The Wizards selected him with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2010 NBA draft, and he was a five-time All-Star during his first eight seasons. He was also an All-NBA selection in 2016-17 when he averaged 23.1 points, 10.7 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game while leading the team to the second round of the playoffs.

However, injuries ultimately derailed his time there when he played 41 games in 2017-18 and 32 games in 2018-19 before sitting out the 2019-20 campaign.

Neither the Rockets nor the Wizards have looked like a playoff team in the early going this season.

Houston is 6-9 and no longer has James Harden on the roster following a blockbuster trade that sent him to the Brooklyn Nets. Washington is 3-9, and trade rumors about Bradley Beal are already circulating.

It already looks like a lost season for the Wizards, and Wall can make things even more difficult for his former team with an impressive showing on Tuesday.