John Wall, it appears, has had a change of heart. Before the season started, the Rockets and Wall mutually agreed to seek a trade partner, effectively ending the five-time All-Star’s tenure with Houston. But with no one willing to take on the remaining $91.7 million owed to Wall over the next two seasons, the former first overall pick is now eying a return to the hardwood, beginning a “dialogue” with the Rockets about joining the team in the “near future,” according to ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski.
Acquired from Washington in a trade for Russell Westbrook, Wall appeared in 40 games for the Rockets last season, averaging 20.6 points and 6.9 assists per game. Wall, who stands as the third-leading scorer in Wizards franchise history, missed all of 2019-20 while recovering from a torn Achilles, the result of a shower mishap at home.
Without him, the Rockets have barely shown a pulse this season, losing 15 straight before eking out a narrow win Wednesday against Chicago. Wall’s agent is Rich Paul, who also represents disgruntled Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons.
Wall’s motivation to return is unclear, though perhaps the 31-year-old feels he can boost his trade value by playing. If the Rockets, who are in the midst of a lengthy rebuild under second-year coach Stephen Silas, aren’t able to find a suitor for Wall, the two could ultimately agree to a buyout, allowing the veteran guard to sign with a team of his choosing in free agency. Navigating thorny stalemates such as these has, unfortunately, become an annual rite of passage for the Rockets, with malcontent James Harden burning every last bridge on his way out of Houston last January.
An alum of the University of Kentucky, the 6’3” Wall has averaged 19.1 points, 9.1 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals on 43.1-percent shooting (32.3 on three-pointers) in 613 career games (601 starts) across 10 NBA seasons.