John Wall breaks silence by joining Kawhi Leonard, Paul George
LAS VEGAS — Despite only playing 40 games in the last three NBA seasons, John Wall is ready for the next part of his journey. Wall joined the LA Clippers in free agency and the point guard couldn’t be more excited. Now he’s looking to help Kawhi Leonard and Paul George achieve the ultimate goal.
Wall negotiated a buyout with the Houston Rockets after playing two seasons there. He quickly agreed to a two-year contract with the Clippers. He sees him as the best fit in terms of skills and position needed, especially when it comes to picking up the pace.
“I’m super excited,” John Wall told ClutchPoints on Saturday. “I haven’t played so I’m just ready to play. Imagine I have to pick up the pace and I have guys like Kawhi Leonard or Paul George on this side or Nicolas Batum or Reggie Jackson or Terance Mann or Luke Kennard and I have a big guy like Zu who can run the floor. Just having these guys who can knock down shots but at the same time can defend at a high level.
John Wall’s last game was on April 23, 2021 against the LA Clippers, where he dropped 27 points and dropped 13 assists. The Rockets haven’t played point guard a second longer in the remaining 12 games of this season or the entire 2021-22 NBA season.
And it wasn’t like Wall was hurt. Far from it, in fact.
“Everyone kept saying he was hurt. I wasn’t injured at all. I was ready to play, I was just in a situation that I couldn’t control. And it was understandable. Like I said, nothing hard against these guys. I just tried to be a veteran, to lead as much as possible.
The last three years weren’t just about dealing with not playing. In January 2019, he tore his Achilles tendon, ending his tenure with the Washington Wizards. Despite several reports of wanting to stay in Washington and build with the Wizards, he was traded to Houston.
Wall, whose father died of liver cancer when he was just nine years old, lost his mother in December 2019 following a battle with cancer. Throughout her career, Wall has repeatedly expressed how her mother was the most important figure in her life.
Then in February 2021, Wall lost his grandmother, another person who played a huge role in his life.
“My last three years have felt like I’ve been in the darkest place I know,” he explained. “I don’t think many people could have gotten over what I went through – losing my mother, losing my grandmother, tearing up my Achilles, going through all this adversity, just trying to find me, and then getting some of that. love more than anything that was taken from me.
“It was very tough, but grateful to have the opportunity to be here. The Clippers organization, a top class organization, great teammates, great guys, we worked hard, we had fun and it was exciting.
With the way the past few years have gone, Wall says getting ready to play basketball again gives him butterflies.
“Yeah great butterflies for me just to say I can play basketball again. I had the opportunity to be in the NBA again and like I said everything I’ve been through and to have my family, my friends with me. Staying with me through this difficult time. That’s what you really need because you really find out who’s there with you. Like, I wasn’t playing, the phone wasn’t didn’t sound as much as it used to. You know, that’s the nature of the game, that’s how it goes. That’s why I believe loyalty is love. I don’t care what people tell me that they love me. Show me loyalty, that’s the most important thing to me. They kiss with open arms, they wanted me there, they’re super excited and I feel the same. I just think that it’s gonna be a dope thing.
The Clippers were among several teams that expressed an interest in Wall. There have been rumors floating around involving John Wall and the Clippers over the past few years, but nothing ever came of it. Once a buyout was negotiated, however, there was little to think about from Wall’s perspective.
“For me, I was just happy to have the opportunity to be back in the league,” continued John Wall. “I really didn’t care about all the other teams. The other teams are great and I’m glad the teams wanted to come after me but I kind of looked at the picture like where can I go where I don’t have to be the John Wall of 2016 and wearing it and doing all this and having the pressure on me. I think they were missing a piece of having a playmaker and it’s a great situation for me to be there.
If there was any indecision about where he would go, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard will put a stop to it.
“Me Paul [George]and Kawhi [Leonard], we’ve been talking about this for a minute. I tried to recruit Paul to DC in 2016, if I’m not mistaken. He’s someone I call a brother and then just looking at how great they are as a team, I think they’re first class organization with that. Great teammates, great guys, great coaching staff, great ownership. Who wouldn’t want to live in Los Angeles, amazing city, big fans, and I think they have something special that they get to do.
Wall comes to the Clippers with career averages of 19.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 9.1 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Most of those seasons have been spent carrying the Wizards alongside Bradley Beal. The duo made a splash in the playoffs, reaching the second round three times in four seasons, but never went further than that.
On a team like these Clippers, Wall knows his workload is going to be drastically reduced and he won’t be asked to be “that guy” anymore.
“I want to be that, but I don’t need to do it every night, I don’t need to be Batman every night for us to win. That’s the end goal for me, that’s that part of my career where I don’t want to have to be the Batman every night to try to win. On our team, I think anybody can be Batman. I think that’s a good thing for us, it’s that we just have to build our camaraderie Like what on paper it looks great How many times have you seen teams look good on paper but can you do it when you step on I still have everything I had in 2016 but yeah I only played 40 games but last year it wasn’t my fault or my choice and I couldn’t control I just tried to be professional and be a leader and be a vet and help young people as much as possible and the year before that was the bubble so I was like, I does not come back ndrai not without bubble.
Wall spent the 2021-22 season staying fit in case his name was called while honing his specific skills. Unfortunately, the Rockets never called him up, opting to run with their young guys all season en route to the No. 3 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. His absence from the season sparked speculation about his injury status and whether Houston was secretly protecting him from anything that became public knowledge.
Wall confirmed on Saturday that he was never injured last season but was just trying to stay in shape while being a good vet.
“I’m fine. My Achilles never bothered me. Like you were looking at me, like it was funny to me, when I was in Houston, I wasn’t on a big team that year, we didn’t play well, but I was on average 21 [points] and seven [assists]. I think that says a lot about me. When I’m between these four lines, I don’t have an injury, I don’t think about it. I go there and I compete. I’m working hard every day to try to get back to this position to be back in the league.
As for the starting point guard position, which should be a competition in training camp, Wall says he doesn’t care if he starts or finishes.
“For me, I’m just happy to play basketball again. I’m a competitor, I know a lot of people ask me, are you crazy if you start or don’t start – I don’t care, I’m a competitor and i just want an opportunity to go out there and compete for a spot and if i get it i get it and if i don’t we know how talented reggie jackson is and what he did for this team and help these guys especially when Kawhi and PG were away even when they were there he’s a great piece whoever gets the spot is awesome we all come here with one goal and try to win a championship.
“I think it’s exciting man, I can come back and play, it’s not really too much for me to do, just go out there and play my game and Kawhi comes back so I think that gonna be fun.”