John Wall

Pacific Notes: Wall, George, Mutombo, Ayers, Looney, Payton II, Kings

John Wall is expected to sign with the Clippers once he clears waivers and he’ll be joining a close friend in Los Angeles, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times writes. Paul George formed a strong bond with Wall early in their NBA careers and they’ve both dealt with major injuries.

“He’s somebody I’m always going to root for,” George said during Wall’s first season in Houston. “He’s a brother to me, and I couldn’t be more happy to see him back on the floor and doing what he loves to do, and continuing to make those plays that everyone loves him for.” Wall didn’t get a chance to make those plays last season as he sat out while Houston developed its young backcourt.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

John Wall Finalizes Buyout, Intends To Join Clippers

JUNE 28: The Rockets have officially announced their buyout agreement with Wall, issuing a statement thanking him for his professionalism and wishing him the best. The point guard is now on track to clear waivers on Thursday.

JUNE 27: John Wall is finalizing a buyout with the Rockets and will become an unrestricted free agent, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Wall’s agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports is meeting with Rockets GM Rafael Stone on Tuesday to complete the buyout, sources told Haynes.

Wall intends to joins the Clippers once he clears waivers, though other teams are also calling, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

There had been momentum toward a buyout or trade after Wall picked up his $47.4MM player option for the 2022/23 season last week. The size of Wall’s contract made it very difficult to find a suitable trade partner.

Wall is giving back $6.5MM in order to part ways with Houston and sign with the team of his choice, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets. That’s approximately the same amount as a taxpayer mid-level exception, which suggests that’s likely what he’ll get from the Clippers, MacMahon adds (via Twitter).

Wall has played in just 72 regular season contests since the 2017/2018 season. He put up solid numbers during 40 games with Houston in ’20/21, averaging 20.6 PPG and 6.9 APG, though he shot a career-worst 40.4% from the field. His production peaked in ’16/17, when he averaged 23.1 and 10.7 APG for Washington. His career was sidetracked by heel surgery and a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Last season, the rebuilding Rockets, who were intent on starting a young starting backcourt of Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr., reached an agreement with Wall to allow him to remain away from the team. Wall collected $44.3MM during his agreed-upon exile.

Rockets Rumors: Draft, Gordon, Wall, Martin

The Rockets mulled the idea of trying to trade up from No. 3 in last Thursday’s draft, but given that the draft class featured three prospects (Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero, and Chet Holmgren) considered top-tier options, they didn’t feel the need to give up the assets necessary to move up a spot or two, general manager Rafael Stone tells Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

“We thought about it a lot,” Stone said. “But it wasn’t clear who we’d be moving up to. You think about moving up in every spot of the draft. You always think about that, that’s part of the job. But one of the nice things — and we knew on lottery night — was that we were going to get somebody that we thought could be part of our organization for a long time and really help us take the next step in this process we’re trying to build.

“That doesn’t mean you foreclose conversations; you talk to everybody about everything, but we always felt comfortable picking where we were picking and were really excited.”

Here are several more Rockets-related notes and rumors from Iko:

  • The Rockets received calls when they were on the clock at No. 17 from teams looking to acquire the pick and would have been more inclined to entertain those offers if Tari Eason hadn’t been on the board, according to Iko.
  • Iko describes trade interest in Eric Gordon as having gotten more “fervent” within the last couple weeks and notes that teams were making offers during last week’s draft that included 2022 picks. The Sixers were one of the clubs that made a proposal, but the Rockets continue to value Gordon more highly than the packages they’ve been offered and aren’t desperate to move him, Iko writes.
  • Like Marc Stein, Iko has heard that the Rockets and John Wall may finally be gaining momentum toward a divorce, with a buyout considered more likely than a trade. The two sides are expected to meet this week, and Wall is hoping to come to a resolution by the start of free agency on Thursday, sources tell The Athletic.
  • The Trail Blazers and Nets are among the teams that have inquired on Kenyon Martin Jr., who reportedly wouldn’t be opposed to a trade.

Stein’s Latest: Looney, Simons, Nurkic, Clippers, Wall, More

Teams interested in pursuing center Kevon Looney this offseason are increasingly pessimistic that they’ll be able to lure him away from the Warriors, league sources tell Marc Stein (Substack link). According to Stein, there’s an expectation that Looney will likely re-sign with Golden State on a multiyear deal when he becomes a free agent this week.

Stein writes that there has been similar pessimism from the teams with interest in making a run at Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons or center Jusuf Nurkic. Simons is a restricted free agent while Nurkic is unrestricted, but the belief among rival teams is that both players will remain in Portland, per Stein.

Here are a few more updates from the veteran NBA reporter:

  • Stein says league sources reiterated to him on Monday that the Clippers will be making a “strong pitch” to John Wall if the veteran point guard reaches a buyout agreement with Houston. There’s a sense that the presence of head coach Tyronn Lue will help increase L.A.’s chances of landing Wall, Stein adds.
  • While they stayed put on draft night, Hawks big man John Collins and Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon remain highly likely to be traded this offseason, sources tell Stein.
  • Following a strong year overseas with AS Monaco, big man Donta Hall is receiving interest from NBA teams, according to Stein. Hall, a former Alabama standout, appeared in a total of 22 games for Detroit, Brooklyn, and Orlando in 2020 and 2021.

Path To Buyout Materializing For Rockets’ John Wall

The Rockets may soon have a route for buying out pricey point guard John Wall, Marc Stein writes in his newest Substack report.

Wall picked up his $47.4MM player option for the 2022/23 season last week and the expectation is that the Rockets will once again peruse the trade market in search of a new home for the veteran.

Assuming Houston can’t find a taker for the final year of Wall’s lucrative maximum contract, Stein indicates that there are “serious murmurs” the team and the 6’3″ guard could reach a buyout agreement. How much of his contract Wall is willing to give up in buyout talks could be a sticking point, but according to Stein, a pathway to a buyout appears to be “at last materializing.”

Stein notes that the 31-year-old Wall, a former five-time All-Star with the Wizards, has played in just 72 regular season contests since the 2017/2018 NBA season.

The rebuilding Rockets opted to not play a nominally-healthy Wall as a reserve behind its young starting backcourt of Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr., for a single minute during the 2021/22 season, as the two sides agreed to have him remain away from the team.

As Stein writes, the Clippers and Heat have been floated as possible Wall destinations for a while and presumably would still have interest if he reaches the open market. In a new wrinkle, Stein also reports that another star-studded club, the Lakers, would consider adding Wall if he’s bought out.

Texas Notes: Murray, Spurs, Wall, Gordon, Eason

The Spurs drafted three high-upside 19-year-olds on Thursday, with the hopes that one or more of their new prospects can help All-Star point guard Dejounte Murray reach new heights on the court — or perhaps replace him as the next face of the franchise, writes Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News.

San Antonio is hopeful that pesky ex-Baylor center Jeremy Sochan, selected with the ninth pick in the draft, sharpshooting wing Malaki Branham, and defensive-oriented guard Blake Wesley will all develop into solid contributors.

Given the fact that Murray is now an All-Star talent on a desirable below-market contract, Finger notes that the Spurs may be wary of giving the 25-year-old point guard a maximum contract extension that would pay in the neighborhood of $40MM annually. If the team decides Murray isn’t capable of being the best player on a title team, it may still look to move him for a solid haul and hope that one of the new players in this rebuild can become the team’s next All-Star.

There’s more out of the Lone Star State:

  • The Spurs‘ front office is satisfied with its latest draft picks, per  Tom Osborn of the San Antonio Express-News“We approach every draft trying to find the best available talent,” Spurs general manager Brian Wright said. “We walked away from this one feeling pretty good about what we ended up with. We had all three guys with draft grades inside of [the top] 20.” Osborn notes that the 6’8″ Sochan, a versatile defender honored as the 2022 Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year, was drafted with the highest pick the Spurs have used since 1997. “As you see now, teams playing smaller and guys being able to guard multiple positions, do different things on the floor,” Wright said. “We think he complements the group really well. He’s a connector, right? He connects you on both ends of the floor.”
  • After the Rockets enjoyed a robust draft last week, adding three intriguing youngsters in the first round, the team is set to turn its attention to the futures of veteran guards John Wall and Eric Gordon, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Both players could be in the final season of their lucrative contracts: Wall’s deal expires in the summer of 2023, and Gordon has a non-guaranteed $20.9MM team option for the 2023/24 season. Feigen says that Gordon’s defensive skills may make him a solid trade target for contenders, but cautions that teams may temper their trade package offers given that Houston will be hoping to offload him for whatever offer they can finagle.
  • Though new Rockets forward Tari Eason, selected with the No. 17 pick out of LSU, did not even start in college, he is confident he can excel in Houston, writes Danielle Lerner of the Houston Chronicle. A speedy, defensively-oriented 6’8″ forward with a 7’2″ wingspan, Eason noted that his emergence as something of a late-blooming prospect helped fuel him. “I’ve always had a pretty good defensive mindset just from my competitive nature from high school, even before then,” Eason said. “I wasn’t heavily recruited so I always carried that chip on my shoulder and that real edge that has helped me carry through.” Eason was not without some pedigree by the time he finished his NCAA tenure: he was voted the 2022 SEC Sixth Man of the Year and made the 2022 All-SEC First Team.

Rockets’ John Wall Opts In For 2022/23

Rockets guard John Wall has exercised his player option for the 2022/23 season, with agent Rich Paul informing the team of the decision, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The move had long been expected, since the option will pay Wall a salary of $47,366,760 next season after he didn’t play a single game for Houston in 2021/22. There was no chance he’d come close to matching that figure if he opted out to become an unrestricted free agent.

Although Wall is now officially under contract for 2022/23, it’s unlikely that he’ll spend another full season under contract with the Rockets and away from the team. Charania reports (via Twitter) that the two sides are expected to make an effort to resolve Wall’s situation in the “near future.”

The Rockets would love to find a trade partner willing to acquire Wall, but his exorbitant cap hit will make it virtually impossible without attaching an asset or two, which the rebuilding club has no interest in doing.

There were some rumors leading up to the 2022 trade deadline about a possible swap of Wall and Russell Westbrook, but Houston reportedly sought a first-round pick in those talks, which the Lakers weren’t willing to surrender. I wouldn’t count on L.A.’s stance changing this summer.

Assuming the Rockets can’t find a taker for Wall, the two sides are expected to explore buyout talks. As Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reported in April, the 31-year-old would like to have a role on a winning team, if possible.

Wall last suited up for the Rockets in 2020/21, when he averaged 20.6 points, 6.9 assists, and 3.2 rebounds in 40 games (32.2 MPG). His shooting line that season was just .404/.317/.749.

Darvin Ham Leading Candidate To Become New Lakers Coach?

Sources tell Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic that Bucks assistant Darvin Ham has made the “strongest impression” on Lakers brass thus far in interviews, and appears to be the leading candidate for the head coaching job.

As we relayed earlier today, Ham, Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson, and former Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts are reportedly finalists for the position.

Los Angeles’ leadership is looking for a coach “who can command respect and authority from the locker room” while maintaining a strong voice and presence in order to manage the differing personalities throughout team’s roster. Ham’s “no-nonsense style and ability to resonate with his players” has impressed the Lakers to this point, according to Charania and Amick.

They aren’t listed as finalists, but Bucks assistant Charles Lee and Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin haven’t been eliminated from consideration yet. However, former Warriors coach Mark Jackson is no longer a candidate, per The Athletic’s duo.

Here’s more on the Lakers’ coaching search, courtesy of Charania and Amick:

  • Owner Jeanie Buss will meet the finalists during their in-person interviews, which will occur soon. She has not been involved in the process to this point.
  • The team’s search committee is headed by VP of basketball operations and GM Rob Pelinka, and it will make the final decision on who’s hired. Buss plans to defer to the committee’s recommendation. Magic Johnson and Phil Jackson, who are reportedly advising Buss despite not having official roles, are not part of the search committee. LeBron James isn’t on it either — only Lakers officials are.
  • After a disappointing season and lots of turmoil surrounding the franchise over the past few years, including the poorly executed firing of former head coach Frank Vogel, Buss “is determined to assuage any and all of the finalists’ concerns about the organization” as the team concludes its search, says Charania and Amick. She plans to deliver a message centered on providing the necessary resources and support for the Lakers to be successful going forward.
  • The team is still operating as though Russell Westbrook will be on the roster next season, which is why the coaching candidates have been asked how they’d use him. Assuming the Lakers are unable to find a trade for Westbrook, which would undoubtedly be difficult given his enormous ($47MM) player option and declining play, releasing him isn’t considered a viable alternative, nor is having him away from the team, like the Rockets did with John Wall this past season, per Charania and Amick.
  • However, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack article that he remains skeptical Westbrook will be on the roster in 2022/23. Stein notes that while the team is reluctant to part with future first-round picks to grease the wheels on a Westbrook deal, creating a “fresh-start atmosphere” for next season will be very difficult if he’s still on the Lakers.

Fischer’s Latest: Jazz, Conley, Snyder, Popovich, Graham

Speculation about the potential breakup of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert appears to be fueled more by people outside of the Jazz organization than those within it, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who says sources from the team and around the NBA believe that CAA has been responsible for many of the whispers involving Mitchell’s future.

According to Fischer, team owner Ryan Smith is willing to spend big on a contender, and Utah has no plans to rebuild. Smith also likes the idea of having multiple players in the 2023 All-Star Game, which the Jazz will host.

Although some rival executives believe a Gobert trade is a possibility and view the Mavericks, Hawks, and Raptors as potential destinations, Fischer says the Jazz are focused on upgrading their defense, so moving a three-time Defensive Player of the Year seems counterintuitive. On the other hand, complementary players like Bojan Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale, and perhaps even Mike Conley are considered more realistic trade candidates.

Fischer wonders if the Clippers or the Knicks might have interest in Conley, another CAA client. With the Jazz seeking help on the wing, Evan Fournier could theoretically headline a Knicks offer for Conley if they miss out on Jalen Brunson, says Fischer, though he notes that some staffers in New York would prefer to stay in-house and give Immanuel Quickley an expanded role.

As for the Clippers, Fischer is skeptical that a Conley trade offer centered around sharpshooter Luke Kennard would appeal to a Utah team looking to improve its defense and suggests that a more realistic point guard target for L.A. would be John Wall, assuming he and the Rockets work out a buyout. Wall has also been linked to the Heat, but Fischer’s sources believe Miami’s interest predated last year’s acquisition of Kyle Lowry.

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • There’s “little expectation” among people close to the situation that Quin Snyder will leave the Jazz before his contract expires in 2023, says Fischer. Snyder also holds an option for the 2023/24 season.
  • Jazz CEO Danny Ainge doesn’t appear inclined to shake up the team’s basketball operations department. According to Fischer, major changes would likely only occur if former head of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey gets a top front office job elsewhere and wants to bring some Utah executives with him.
  • Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who is traveling and considering his coaching future, plans to visit Belgrade for the EuroLeague Final Four later this month, a source tells Fischer. The general sense is that Popovich seems interested in coaching San Antonio for at least one more season, Fischer adds.
  • The Pelicans are among the teams believed to be considering a possible point guard upgrade this offseason, reports Fischer. Devonte’ Graham saw his role reduced significantly in the playoffs and some people around the league think he could end up on the trade block this offseason, but sources tell Fischer the Pels aren’t motivated to move on from Graham like they were with Eric Bledsoe a year ago.

Stein’s Latest: Nash, Hornets, Pacers, Wall, Turner, Mavs

The Nets‘ season could be over in a matter of hours, as the team faces an elimination game at home on Monday night, down 3-0 to Boston in its first-round series.

While a first-round sweep would be a disastrous outcome for a club that entered the season as a championship favorite and would certainly increase scrutiny on head coach Steve Nash, one source close to the situation tells Substack writer Marc Stein that he doesn’t expect Nash to become a fall guy for a disappointing playoff run.

As Stein and his source observe, Nash has faced an inordinate number of challenges during the 2021/22 season, including Kyrie Irving‘s vaccination decision, James Harden‘s trade request, and injuries to players like Kevin Durant and Joe Harris. Stein suggests that Nash shouldn’t avoid blame for the Nets’ struggles, but says there are many larger issues in play as well.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • A concern about player discipline both on and off the court was among the factors in the Hornets‘ decision to part ways with head coach James Borrego, league sources tell Stein.
  • The Pacers expressed some interest in Rockets guard John Wall early in the 2021/22 season, but it didn’t go anywhere and it happened before they acquired Tyrese Haliburton, according to Stein. In other words, Indiana is probably an unlikely offseason suitor for Wall.
  • After seriously considering trading Myles Turner during the ’21/22 season, the Pacers now hope to keep the big man long-term, sources tell Stein. Turner will be extension-eligible this offseason as he enters a contract year.
  • While some Jazz staffers were reportedly upset about seeing Knicks executive William Wesley and Julius Randle courtside at Game 1 of their series vs. Dallas, the Mavericks weren’t particularly bothered by it, since it “didn’t really change anything” in their view, Stein writes. The Knicks are believed to have interest in Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and Mavs guard Jalen Brunson, and Dallas is aware of New York’s interest in Brunson. Of course, Brunson is an unrestricted free agent this summer, while Mitchell is under team control for at least three more years.
  • Some teams have asked the NBA to consider making qualification for the play-in tournament contingent on the Nos. 9 and 10 teams finishing within a certain distance of the No. 8 seed, says Stein. It’s unclear whether the league will tweak that rule going forward or leave the format as is.