The Houston Rockets have the NBA’s worst record at 3-16, and have played the first quarter of the season without John Wall on the court. The biggest name on the roster has been a healthy scratch each game, sitting on the bench with the team but not a part of the rotation as Houston pivots fully into rebuilding mode.
That was initially a mutual decision between the team and Wall as they try to trade him, but the former All-Star is getting the itch to play again. Wall has made his desire to play clear to the organization, but the two sides apparently cannot agree on what role he would take on and as such he will continue to sit out, even as a trade seems unlikely. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Wall wants to be a starter again, or at the very least have the opportunity to compete and win the starting job. The Rockets, however, are insistent that if he plays it needs to be in a bench role.
Wall spoke to Rockets officials and stated his desire is to play, have a starting role and compete to maintain it, but the franchise informed him that they want him to come off the bench, and not start, in order to play, sources tell The Athletic. The outcome of the conversations is that Wall will continue to sit out games while remaining professional and being around and engaged with the team, sources said. Rockets officials informed Wall in their conversations on Sunday that they were not willing to guarantee him a starting role.
The two sides have reached an apparent impasse, but it seems like it shouldn’t be this difficult to come to an agreement with Wall on a role that can satisfy all parties. The starting role shouldn’t be all that important to either side, but one would think that you could bridge that gap by starting Wall, bringing Kevin Porter Jr. off the bench, but limiting Wall’s minutes and having Porter still playing a bulk of his minutes with the starting unit if the goal is to build continuity with Jalen Green, Christian Wood, and others who might be part of the long-term plan.
The pitch to Wall is that he plays 25-28 minutes a night, technically holding the starting role and getting to show his viability as a player for other teams, while also ceding some minutes to the young guys, including in some big spots. It’d take some finesse to get KPJ on board, but if he’s playing important minutes late in games where that applies, even if not starting, that would seem to be a fair compromise.