There was a time not long ago when All-Star point guards Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and John Wall owned three of the worst contracts in the NBA. In a disastrous series of events over the past two years, the Houston Rockets dealt Paul for Westbrook, and then Westbrook for Wall, costing themselves the rights to as many as three first-round draft picks in the process. Both Paul and Westbrook have since been traded again for real assets, begging the question of whether any NBA contract is actually untradable anymore.
Wall is testing that theory, as he and the Rockets have mutually agreed to part ways, pending the pursuit of a trade partner for the oft-injured 31-year-old's services, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. News of Wall's availability, coupled with no reported plans for a buyout, was met with some version of, Good luck.
Wall has played 41 games since Christmas 2018 and no more than 41 in a season since 2016-17. He averaged 20.6 points last season on 40/32/75 shooting splits, the worst efficiency of anyone who took at least 14 shots per game. He took 18, because someone had to on the 17-win Rockets. Keep in mind, Victor Oladipo was more efficient in his brief Houston tenure, and he is currently playing on a minimum contract.
Wall is due $91.7 million this season and next, when he will be the league's second-highest paid player behind Stephen Curry. The former No. 1 pick is the most overpaid player in the NBA by no fault of his own.
Knee injuries kept pace with the breakneck speed that made Wall a five-time All-Star from the onset of his career. A bruised right knee gave way to tendinitis a month into his rookie year, before a stress fracture in his left kneecap cost him the first half of the 2012-13 season. By May 2016, both knees required offseason surgery. The left knee needed another procedure in January 2018. He necessitated season-ending surgery on his left heel a year later, and a month after that, he slipped at home, suffering a torn left Achilles' tendon.
The four-year, $171 million supermax extension Wall signed in July 2017 did not even begin until after the surgery that cost him the entire 2019-20 campaign. The Wizards tied a lottery-protected 2023 first-round draft pick to Wall's deal in their December 2020 trade for Westbrook, highway robbery in retrospect.
Now, the Rockets are looking to dump Wall, and any trade could cost them even more first-round picks. Houston still owes its 2024 and 2026 first-rounders to the Oklahoma City Thunder, along with a first-round pick swap in 2025, as part of the Paul-Westbrook deal. Still, the Rockets own nine first-round picks over the next seven years, recouping much of their outgoing draft capital in last year's trade of James Harden.