Lakers Lose 5-Time All-Star Target to Rival: Report

Lakers exec Rob Pelinka

Getty Lakers exec Rob Pelinka

Kyrie Irving is not the only former NBA All-Star who is being linked to the Los Angeles Lakers as free agency begins on June 30, 2022. NBA insider Marc Stein reported that while the Lakers are not interested in swapping Russell Westbrook for Wall, the team would potentially pursue the point guard as a free agent if he is able to reach a buyout agreement with the Rockets.

“Yet rumbles have finally begun to circulate about Wall resurfacing as an active player next season,” Stein wrote on June 26. “This week marked the first time in some time that I heard serious murmurs about Wall successfully negotiating a buyout with the Rockets after his season on the sidelines — provided Houston remains unable to find a trade partner on a Wall deal.

“…Interest in Wall from the Clippers and Heat, if he can finally make his way onto the open market, has been mentioned for months. I’ve likewise been advised that the Lakers — resistant as they remain to trading Russell Westbrook to Houston for Wall by attaching draft capital as a sweetener for the Rockets — would consider Wall as a candidate for the roster if he is suddenly available via the buyout market.”

Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported that Wall has officially agreed to a buyout with the Rockets. Unfortunately for the Lakers, the franchise may be losing Wall to their crosstown rival. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Wall intends to sign with the Clippers once the buyout is completed.

“After agreeing to a buyout with the Houston Rockets, guard John Wall plans to sign a free-agent deal with the LA Clippers, sources told ESPN on Monday,” Wojnarwoski detailed on June 27. “Wall, who was due $47.4 million from the Rockets after exercising the player option for the final year of his contract, agreed to take $6.5 million less to become a free agent, a source told ESPN. That is roughly the amount of the taxpayer midlevel exception, which Wall could receive once he is able to negotiate a deal with the Clippers.”

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Could Wall Be a Backup Option to Irving?

The Lakers had been mentioned as a possible landing spot for Irving, but it appears the team’s longshot odds are even more diminished with the guard opting into his current deal with the Nets. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Irving does not plan to push for a trade and will suit up for the Nets in 2022-23. Unless Irving has a change of heart, the point guard will become a free agent in 2023.

“Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving is opting into his $37 million player option for the 2022-23 season, @TheAthletic @Stadium has learned,” Charania tweeted on June 27. “Irving is bypassing on multiple opt-in and trade scenarios to fulfill his four-year commitment to the Nets and Kevin Durant.”

Wall Has Not Played Since the 2020-21 Season

The Rockets guard sat out the entire 2021-22 season as the Houston front office unsuccessfully attempted to trade the five-time All-Star. Wall averaged 20.6 points, 6.9 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals while shooting 31.7% from the three-point line in his 40 appearances during the 2020-21 season.

Wall has battled injuries in recent years, but the best-case scenario for his next team is that the guard is able to benefit from a season of rest just as Al Horford did. The Celtics center only played 28 games for the Thunder in 2020-21 before joining Boston and becoming a key factor in the team reaching the NBA finals.

The Lakers are more than $40 million over the cap, per Spotrac and would be unable to offer Wall a lucrative contract with their maximum option being the taxpayer exception.

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