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John Wall Media Day reaction: details on highly unusual arrangement with Rockets

John Wall, Rockets

To say it was a surprise to see John Wall speak at Rockets Media Day is an understatement. After news broke about the Rockets and Wall mutually agreeing to eventually part ways, it was assumed Wall might not even be at media day, much less speak at it.

It was obvious that the Rockets had prepared to make him available with general manager Rafael Stone ahead of time to quell any lingering questions about Wall’s future. They first started off by explaining how both sides came to an agreement to continue being with the team, but not play in games until a resolution is arrived at. Wall will still practice, be at home games, and travel with the team. Specific details and constraints are still being discussed.

“Ever since I came here, everything’s been professional,” said Wall. “Being with the (Rockets) organization, talking to Rafael, talking to coach Silas, we just all came together and felt this was the best decision for both parties. It wasn’t easy. It was tough. My job here is to be like a mentor, be a leader, try and teach these young guys how the NBA goes, and be a support system throughout the whole season.”

It’s tempting to call this an awkward arrangement, but neither party made it sound awkward. It’s certainly unusual for a player such as Wall to willingly agree to sit out games and still be with the team, but Wall thought it was best for him as well.

“When we were trying to figure this out, I wanted to make sure that we treated him really fairly,” said Stone. “Part of our conversations this summer was making sure that everybody ends up in as good of a place as they possibly can without people having to make sacrifices that they can’t make.”

The implication Stone makes here is pretty clear: Wall was not going to be a starter if he played this season. This was the best way to work around benching him and eventually finding a solution. Houston is clearly putting a heavy investment into Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green as the backcourt of the future. Wall could possibly be the best guard on the Rockets, but he doesn’t fit where the organization wants to go.

“It’s very tough,” said Wall on choosing not to play. “Like I said, I’ve been injured the last two years so I didn’t play. Last year I was just super excited to be on the court and be on a team that wanted me there.”

A giant barrier for Wall and his goals: his contract (two years, $91.7 million remaining). Usually teams in this kind of situation with a player resort to a buyout, but the Rockets made it pretty clear that they don’t want to do that right now.

“I don’t want to speak for John, but I can tell you organizationally, we don’t have any interest in [a buyout] at this time,” said Stone. “We’ll keep talking and everything else. I don’t think that makes sense for John. I don’t think it makes any sense for us. So we’re going to find things that make sense for both parties as opposed to finding something that doesn’t make any sense for either.”

There are some teams that theoretically make sense as a Wall destination, but it’ll be difficult for the Rockets to find a suitor this season. We’ll see how things develop over time in Houston.