John Wall has not yet played for the Houston Rockets this season, but that almost changed recently as the Rockets were undergoing a 15-game losing streak. Houston, in desperate need of some veteran leadership, was open to allowing Wall to return to the floor, but the two sides could not agree on a role for him as Wall preferred to be a starter as he had been throughout his entire career. The Rockets would not guarantee him such a position, so the mutual agreement they made before the season to hold him out and seek a trade remained in place.
Now, with the Rockets winning games and no trade suitors presenting themselves for Wall, a buyout would appear to be the natural conclusion to this saga. But according to David Aldridge of The Athletic, the two sides are not seriously discussing that option at this time. For now, Wall remains sidelined indefinitely.
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Wall is owed over $44 million this season and over $47 million next year. That has made finding a trade almost impossible, but it has also scuttled buyout talks. There is no industry standard for what a player making that much should give up to earn free agency. Blake Griffin surrendered $13 million last season to leave the Detroit Pistons, but Wall is owed more, and no two players are identical in how much they are willing to give up. Wall, sensing that he might not have much earning power on the open market, might want to retain as much of the money guaranteed to him as possible.
Ironically, that might be what limits his earning power. If Wall could secure free agency now and prove himself with a new, contending team, he might be able to score a bigger deal this summer. If he has to miss this entire season and perhaps next waiting for his contract to expire, there’s just no telling how effective he’ll be in his next stop. That is especially true considering all of the injuries he has dealt with. The sooner Wall can play for somebody, the likelier he is to play well.
But for now, Wall is going to stay out. The Rockets seem comfortable with the arrangement, and unless Wall is willing to make a large financial sacrifice, it seems as though he will have to be as well.