For now, it is believed Wall will join the Rockets for training camp, but will not play in any games until the two sides can reach an agreement, either on some kind of buyout or a trade. We have some thoughts on what this means and what comes next.
Trading Wall will be difficult.
Wall is on the final two years of a max contract. Despite being a superstar in the past, Wall is no longer in his prime and there are few teams with the space available to bring in an injury-prone guard even with Wall's talent and experience. No doubt, this will require some very careful salary cap magic, but if that just isn't possible, a buyout is certainly an option. Neither side wants to do that — Wall will get less money and the Rockets will shell out a bunch for him — but we'll see. Don't be surprised if Wall is on the team at the trading deadline and gets moved then. Given the agreement for him not to play and avoid injury, both sides seem content to wait it out if necessary.
Regardless, this is the right move for the Rockets.
Whatever the team has to do to make this happen, it is the right thing to do. GM Rafael Stone has been clear that the goal of this offseason and the next couple years is to build this young core of talent into a NBA power franchise. They began that process in earnest last year when they traded James Harden. Moving Wall would be close to the last piece of the puzzle. They will be very young and very exciting, and have a ton of question marks about their future. But, this is the rebuild they have chosen and moving their veteran point guard only hastens that process.
Kevin Porter Jr. will get his chance.
After trading for the troubled but talented guard last year, KPJ went on a tear, even notching a 50-point-11-assist game. Adding four rookies, all 19-years-old, to KPJ, Christian Wood, Jae'Sean Tate and KJ Martin allows the Rockets to get a hopeful glimpse of their future in the present. It also allows KPJ to get real on-the-job training with no reason to look over his shoulder. This is his chance to sink or swim and the Rockets believe in him. Now, this is his team.
Will Eric Gordon make it through the year with the team?
One of the really good guys in the NBA is Gordon. Though he's struggled with injuries the last couple seasons, when healthy he is a good scorer, solid distance shooter and better-than-average defender. He could definitely be a help to a contending team if the Rockets can find the right move to get him there. Like Wall, he has a fairly large contract that makes moving him tough. Also, like Wall, it might take giving up a couple of draft picks to make it happen. Our bet is doesn't make it past the trade deadline.
Training camp is just a few weeks away. Stay tuned.