Will Rockets’ John Wall play this season? Huge contract, limited trade options leave veteran guard in limbo

After the Rockets sent James Harden to the Nets last season as part of a blockbuster trade, it became clear that Houston was preparing for a new era. The front office loaded up on future picks in the Harden deal and began building its young core by acquiring Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba and Josh Christopher at the 2021 NBA Draft.

The Rockets’ shift toward a youth movement was a wise decision, but it also left their veterans in a strange position, most notably John Wall. The five-time All-Star has not played for Houston this season after both sides agreed to work together on getting Wall to a new team via trade.

Nearly a month into the 2021-22 campaign, Wall is still a member of the Rockets, and there are no obvious paths to ending the relationship. So is Wall simply stuck in limbo until the end of the season? And what makes a Wall trade so difficult to execute?

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Will John Wall play this season?

On the Nov. 10 edition of “NBA Countdown,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that it is “becoming increasingly unlikely” Wall will play this season. The major hurdle in trade talks is Wall’s contract. He is set to earn nearly $92 million over the next two seasons, including a $47.4 million player option for 2022-23.

“Any team that would potentially trade for him would want him to decline that option,” Wojnarowski said. “Well, he’s not doing that. He’s not giving that money back.”

Wall and the Rockets have shown no interest in a buyout, which would allow Wall to become a free agent and choose his next team. With a trade being the only possible exit strategy at the moment, Wall could be stuck in Houston for the foreseeable future.

“He sits for now as the Rockets rebuild, play their young guys, and John Wall may not play at all in the NBA this season,” Wojnarowski said.

How much money is left on John Wall’s contract?

In the summer of 2017, Wall signed a four-year, $170 million contract extension with the Wizards. That deal kicked in ahead of the 2019-20 season, which Wall missed because of heel, foot and Achilles issues. Washington traded Wall to Houston in exchange for Russell Westbrook in December 2020.

Wall will make $91,677,600 over the next two seasons, per Spotrac, assuming he takes his player option for 2022-23.

*player option

When did John Wall last play in an NBA game?

Wall last appeared in an NBA game on April 23, 2020. He totaled 27 points, 13 assists, three rebounds, two blocks and one steal in a 109-104 loss against the Clippers. He sat out the last 12 games of the 2020-21 regular season.

In 40 games with the Rockets last season, Wall averaged 20.6 points, 6.9 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game.

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