It was announced on Tuesday morning by The Atheltic's Shams Charania that the Houston Rockets and John Wall will work towards finding him a new team to play for this season. Because Wall is still owed $91.7M over the next two years, the two sides have no plans to work towards a buyout, meaning a trade would be their only option.
According to Mitch Lawrence of SiriusXM NBA Radio, the LA Clippers are amongst the teams that the Houston Rockets are taking trade offers from. Also on that list was the Miami Heat and Detroit Pistons. Because Miami just inked Kyle Lowry to a multi-year deal, it is hard to imagine they would also be interested in John Wall, which adds some skepticism to this report's validity.
While it is unclear if the Clippers are indeed pursuing Wall, ESPN's Kendrick Perkins believes they should be. Perkins said on Twitter that the Clippers, 76ers, and Pelicans should pursue the 5x All-Star. Assuming Ben Simmons has played his final game in Philadelphia, John Wall would immediately become the starting point guard on either of these three teams.
For the Clippers, a trade for Wall would certainly be a gamble; however, it could make sense. Momentarily putting aside financial logistics, which certainly must be addressed, John Wall would bring the Clippers a level of dynamic playmaking ability that would compliment the team's perimeter attack.
In 40 games with Houston last season, Wall averaged 20.6 PPG, 6.9 APG, and 3.2 RPG. His assist numbers would likely take a significant jump on a Clippers team loaded with shooters; however, there are some other concerns with Wall's game at this stage of his career.
While Wall's 2021 per game numbers mirrored his career averages, his efficiency took quite the hit. Amongst all players last season who attempted at least 700 field goals, John Wall's 40.4% clip from the field was 3rd worst in the entire NBA. This lack of efficiency could become an issue if and when the Clippers are utilizing Paul George or Kawhi Leonard as the primary ball-handler, and Wall is forced to operate off the ball. In this situation, Reggie Jackson would simply be a better option.
While both Reggie Jackson and John Wall possess certain attributes that the other does not, the case for trading for John Wall would be dependent on the idea that he is an upgrade over Eric Bledsoe. The two are similar players offensively, with their dynamic downhill ability being their best asset; however, Wall is a much more polished offensive player than Bledsoe is.
Adding John Wall to this Clippers roster would provide them with more dynamic offensive play in the absence of Kawhi Leonard next season, while also pairing Leonard and George with a true downhill threat for when Kawhi returns. The move would also send Reggie Jackson to the bench, which would greatly bolster that unit's offensive output.
Analyzing Wall's fit with the Clippers relative to Bledsoe is important, because the newly acquired Clipper would almost certainly need to be included in any John Wall trade. Because Wall is set to make $44M next season, the Clippers would need to send out at least that much in salary in order to make a trade work financially. Bledsoe's $18M would be a key starting point towards completing such a deal.
To facilitate a trade for Wall and his $44M annual price tag, the Clippers could combine Bledsoe's contract with Luke Kennard and a combination of their newly drafted rookies; however, it is unclear if either side would be interested in such a deal. The Clippers may be hesitant to part with both Kennard and at least two of their new rookies, and the Rockets may prefer to take on expiring contracts in a John Wall trade rather than Kennard's remaining $41M over the next three seasons.
If history is any indication, the Clippers will stop at nothing to build the most championship-friendly roster possible, even if that means parting ways with valued youth. Because of this, they can never be ruled out of the pursuit of an available star. If the market for Wall comes back dry, and the Rockets struggle to find suitors, the Clippers could potentially put themselves in a position to deal for him.