The New Orleans Pelicans' feel-good postseason run—which now includes an impressive Game 2 road win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night—is also coming at the expense of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Despite losing to New Orleans in the play-in tournament, the Clippers are poised to bounce back in 2022-23. In fact, many league personnel are already pegging them as a potential favorite for next season's championship. Kawhi Leonard should finally return from his prolonged ACL recovery. Add in the hopes of a full season from Paul George, plus the team's trade deadline additions of Norman Powell and Robert Covington, and you have a formidable contender.

But there still appears to be one glaring void in head coach Ty Lue's rotation, which Clippers forward Marcus Morris addressed following the team's postseason elimination. 

"I would say one of our biggest needs is a backup point guard," Morris told reporters. "We played a lot of the season without one.”

One strong possibility to fill that opening? John Wall.

 

A Wall Buyout?

The veteran Houston Rockets point guard had no interest in a contract buyout this season. Instead, Wall sat out for the entire 2021-22 campaign, collecting $44.3 million in the third year of his four-year contract, while Houston prioritized minutes for young point guard Kevin Porter Jr. and star rookie Jalen Green. 

That impasse prompted the Rockets to inquire about a trade deadline swap for Russell Westbrook, with the belief that Westbrook would be more amenable to negotiating a buyout. But those February conversations between Houston and the Los Angeles Lakers never gained serious traction, sources told B/R. The Rockets sought a future Lakers first-rounder, which was a non-starter for L.A.'s front office. It still seems unlikely that such a deal framework will ever cross the finish line. 

From conversations with league figures familiar with those talks, neither front office appears to truly value the opposing player. And if the 33-year-old Wall picks up his $47.4 million player option for 2022-23 as expected, it could be even more challenging for Houston to shed him than for the Lakers to move Westbrook's expiring contract. 

If the Rockets are unable to find a trade for Wall before the June 23 NBA draft, all signs now point to Houston and Wall's representation revisiting buyout talks prior to free agency in July. In that event, Wall would become an unrestricted free agent, and the Clippers, along with the Miami Heat, have been mentioned by league sources as strong potential landing spots for him.