John Wall is back and playing the game he loves so much after a tumultuous three years recovering from a torn Achilles, dealing with the passing of his beloved mother, and getting sent to pasture by the Houston Rockets last season.
Instead of staying where he wasn’t wanted, Wall and the Rockets agreed to a buyout over the summer that allowed him to sign with the Clippers. When asked about the decision-making behind sitting out last year, Wall said he was “pissed as hell” and remarked that he was told that the Rockets were excited to have him in the fold.
“Pissed as hell. Pissed as hell. I wanted to play basketball. In my last meeting I had there, they were like, ‘Oh, you had a great year the year before. We can’t wait to have you back next year. Build on this, and try to keep helping young guys.'” Wall said, per The Athletic. “So I’m thinking I’ll play the same role I played the year before.”
However, the writing was on the wall (no pun intended) when Coach Stephen Silas and GM Rafael Stone told him they were considering playing him “for like 10 minutes a game, and sometimes you won’t play at all.” They also told him, “you could just not play at all the whole year, and we’ll try to find a trade.”
Faced with those prospects, Wall said he “didn’t want to do that.”
“In August, I went back to check on my condo, and I was going back to Miami, where I’ll (stay) in the summer. So they were like,” Wall said. “‘Yo, the thing is, listen, we’ll bring you out for like 10 minutes a game, and sometimes you won’t play at all, or you can just not play at all the whole year, and we’ll try to find a trade.’ And I was like, ‘I’m not trying to play 10 minutes a game or not play some games.’ I didn’t want to do that.”
Since joining the Clippers, Wall has drawn rave reviews from The Fun Guy, and his joy at playing again has been noticed by SLAM 241 cover co-stars Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. He’s awarded their votes of confidence by averaging 16.0, 2.0 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game on 51.9 percent shooting from the field off the bench. The Clippers are 2-1 so far, with the team going 1-1 during Walls’ appearances.
Wall directly credited PG-13 with luring him to the Clippers when he was asked about his decision to sign with the team. Wall said that the 2010 draft classmates “were talking about it the whole time.”
“Me and ‘P’ (Paul George) were talking about it the whole time,” Wall said. “We were trying to figure it out. I had two years left, and we were trying to wait until I had one year left and try to keep fighting.”
Adding another veteran All-Star with a lot left in the tank has helped raise the Clippers’ profile and their expectations for the 2022-23 season. The Clippers now have the kind of talent, leadership, and skill that puts them on the short list of championship contenders. Wall Star and the Clippers will take on the OKC Thunder (0-3) on Tuesday.