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Why John Wall Signing With the Clippers is Mutually Beneficial

After a buyout with the Rockets, John Wall will begin a new chapter with the Clippers. Boardroom examines the new pairing.

On Monday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon reported that John Wall “plans to sign a free-agent deal” with the Los Angeles Clippers once the NBA free agency officially kicks off Thursday.

Wall, who was due $47.4 million from the Rockets after exercising the player option for the final year of his contract, agreed to take $6.5 million less to become a free agent, a source told ESPN,” the report reads. “That is roughly the amount of the taxpayer midlevel exception, which Wall could receive once he is able to negotiate a deal with the Clippers.”

The Houston Rockets confirmed Wall’s buyout, though the team didn’t disclose details:

After he clears waivers, the Clppers will become Wall’s third home since entering the league as the Washington Wizards’ No. 1 overall pick in 2010. The 31-year-old guard became a five-time All-Star in D.C. before losing the 2018-19 season due to suffering an infection during heel surgery followed by a ruptured Achilles.

In December 2020, the Wizards traded Wall to Houston in exchange for Russell Westbrook. Wall logged 40 games Houston for the 2020-21 campaign, averaging 20.6 points and 6.9 assists. This past season, though, Wall sat out entirely while Houston (tried and failed) to find a trade partner. Meanwhile, the Rockets moved on with younger players like Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr.

Now on the other side of 30 — and having not played a single game in two of the past three seasons — Wall is seen as diminished goods. But Boardroom sees this as a benefit for both him and the Clippers.

Let’s break down why.

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Benefitting the Clippers

By signing with Los Angeles, Wall brings veteran savvy and playmaking at the point guard position. He also has fewer miles on his body than some of his contemporaries, lending room for being more effective in his complementary role. Wall’s pass-first, high-tempo style will help the Clippers relieve some burden from Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. The latter will be returning from a torn ACL that cost him all of last season.

There may be questions around having Wall on the roster with fellow guard Reggie Jackson, but this isn’t early 2010s Wall who was asked to run a franchise. The Clippers are getting a veteran with a similar price tag to the mid-level exception.

If Wall is a great fit, the Clippers receive a quality player at minimal cost — something contending teams up against the luxury tax look to do. If Wall does not work out, the Clippers tried an experiment that they could potentially abandon without it being too expensive to do so. The buyout removes the responsibility of the Clippers having to pay close to the $47 million Wall would have earned had he opted in and stayed with the Rockets.

Benefitting John Wall

It’s easy to forget that John Wall was drafted first overall in 2010. Despite not playing many games in the past few seasons, Wall is still a 12-year NBA veteran. Injuries may have shortened his “prime” years, but with that age comes experience. He was the face of the Washington Wizards for nine years. Then, Wall sent to Houston — traded for another seemingly tarnished 30-something guard in Westbrook. But with the Clippers, Wall’s value changes into something he can readily provide.

In addition, Wall will join arguably the best team he has been on as a pro. Wall has played in 37 career playoff games and has yet to see the Conference Finals. As players age, the pursuit of a championship increases in priority. Wall will not be the focal point of the Clippers’ team success. So, if there is a need for Wall to work through the rust of not playing many games recently, his contribution or lack thereof won’t have any serious adverse effects on the team’s win total.

Wall gets to be a part of a serious contender without shouldering the pressure of success. The last time this Clippers team was relatively healthy, it reached the Conference Finals two seasons ago — the first time in the franchise’s history.

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