In buying and selling Patrick Beverley and Rajon Rondo to the Memphis Grizzlies for Eric Bledsoe, the LA Clippers consolidated the purpose guard place whereas concurrently severing the final connection to Chris Paul’s six-year tenure in LA. Then, they determined to start out Bledsoe at taking pictures guard subsequent to level guard Reggie Jackson, going with no conventional backup after rookie Jason Preston had season-ending foot surgical procedure.

So when the Clippers traded Bledsoe to Portland in February to amass wings Norman Powell and Robert Covington, the expectation was that the Clippers would search one other level guard within the buyout market. That by no means materialized to the Clippers’ liking.

Until now.

Five-time All-Star level guard John Wall has agreed to signal with the LA Clippers on a two-year, $13.2 million deal for his or her taxpayer midlevel exception. Wall, who didn’t play final yr resulting from Houston’s quest to develop younger guards Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr., agreed to provide again $6.5 million in a contract buyout association – roughly the identical yearly wage he’ll now obtain with the Clippers.

The Clippers are set to retain 13 of the 15 gamers who ended final season on a typical contract. Center Isaiah Hartenstein will join the New York Knicks, leaving the Clippers with no conventional backup heart. Wall now takes the 14th normal contract, changing unrestricted free agent small ahead Rodney Hood, who the Clippers acquired on the commerce deadline, however doubtless would have let go had some extent guard of Wall’s caliber hit the market in February.

Wall’s taken a winding path to get to the Clippers, however he’s right here now. He turns into considered one of 9 gamers who may very well be free brokers in 2024, a listing that features Kawhi Leonard and Wall’s 2010 draft classmate Paul George if they refuse participant choices. The two-year window for the Clippers has been established.

How Wall suits

Wall, the highest choose of the 2010 NBA Draft out of Kentucky, peaked with the Washington Wizards within the 2016-17 season, incomes his lone All-NBA choice (third group) whereas averaging career-highs in factors (23.1, with 6.8 free-throw makes an attempt per sport), assists (10.7) and steals (2.0). The Wizards misplaced Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on the highway in opposition to the Boston Celtics that season, however the sport earlier than noticed Wall hit a game-winning 3 to increase the sequence.

That season capped a four-year run the place Wall accounted for greater than 40 % of Washington’s total discipline targets every season from 2013-14 to 2016-17. But he’s been restricted to solely 113 video games whole over the previous 5 years, and he hasn’t performed within the postseason since 2018. Wall’s last All-Star season was in 2017-18, when left knee surgical procedure saved him out for 41 video games. In December 2018, Wall underwent surgical procedure to restore a Haglund’s deformity and keep away from tearing his Achilles’ tendon, solely to do exactly that after slipping and falling at his house. He by no means performed for the Wizards once more, and Washington traded him to the Houston Rockets in 2020 for Russell Westbrook in a swap of comparable contracts.

Wall’s comeback season in Houston was purported to be with James Harden and a brand new head coach in Stephen Silas. But Wall solely performed in six video games with Harden earlier than Houston traded its celebrity to the Brooklyn Nets. Wall went out and in of the lineup with left knee and left Achilles’ points, and he missed the final 12 video games of the 2020-21 season resulting from a proper hamstring pressure. Then, in fact, he didn’t play in any respect final yr.

Obviously, Wall is just not the identical participant that he was at his peak in Washington. We’re speaking 5 years and tons of accidents in the past. He turns 32 years outdated in September, so the Clippers are doubtless getting a special participant than the 2020-21 Rockets model of Wall, too. But Wall is wholesome after understanding over the previous yr, and will probably be attention-grabbing to see if he has retained any of the on-ball juice he’s displayed all through his profession.

There have been good and unhealthy moments for Wall in 2020-21 whereas enjoying for the worst group within the NBA. Offensively, Wall’s field-goal share dropped to a career-low 40.4 %, whereas his assists fell to a career-low 6.9 per sport, with a career-low 1.95 assist-turnover ratio. Wall additionally made solely 31.7 % of his 3s in 2020-21, and is simply a profession 32.3 % shooter from distance, topping out at 37.1 % in 2017-18.

Wall additionally had career-lows in rebounds (3.2) and steals (1.1) in 2020-21 regardless of enjoying 32.2 minutes per sport. Wall’s turnovers have been most pronounced in pick-and-roll and transition conditions, whereas his midrange sport (31.7 % discipline targets) and ending (55.4 % discipline targets in restricted space) left lots to be desired. Wall hardly ever screens and barely cuts, elements of his sport that should evolve whereas in Tyronn Lue’s offense.

But Wall can nonetheless get to the free-throw line at a excessive fee, one thing the Clippers missed from any of their gamers final season. Wall averaged 20.6 factors per sport in 2020-21 and averaged 5.3 free-throw makes an attempt per sport. As a profession 77.9 % free-throw shooter who made 74.9 % in 2020-21, Wall’s shot isn’t damaged. And regardless that Wall had a career-low 10 dunks in 2020-21, he nonetheless has sufficient carry at 6-foot-3 and 210 kilos.

Wall was simpler defensively with the Rockets than he was in his latter days in D.C. He guards pick-and-roll ballhandlers properly, bothers shooters along with his size, and might slide his toes on an island. He’s a former All-Defensive group choice (second group in 2015), and he discovered a strategy to block 31 pictures in 40 video games in 2020-21. Wall additionally averaged a career-low 1.2 private fouls per sport in 2020-21, which ought to match proper in with a Clippers group that defended properly with out fouling.

2022-23 Impact

The massive query with Wall, apart from his readiness to play after lacking two of the previous three full seasons, is the domino impact on the depth chart. The addition of Wall to the Clippers goes to have an impact on so many players on the roster. Right now, I’m placing Wall as a starter at level guard; the final time Wall got here off the bench within the NBA was in January of 2013. That’s when Wall missed the primary 33 video games of the season, then performed his first seven video games as A.J. Price’s backup.

Jackson, who’s coming into a contract yr, began all 75 video games for the Clippers final yr and was on the high of the scouting report for many of January, February and March. In 2020-21, Jackson began 43 of 67 common season video games and 17 of 19 postseason video games. But Jackson started the 2020-21 season as a backup, and Patrick Beverley was the first starter every time he was wholesome till Game 3 of their first-round playoff sequence in opposition to the Dallas Mavericks, when Lue went with Jackson and pushed Beverley to the sting of the rotation. When Jackson was purchased out in Detroit and arrived to the Clippers in February 2020, he was a backup.

Even final season, when it made extra sense to have Bledsoe be a reserve, Lue had Bledsoe begin with Jackson for the primary 22 video games. Bledsoe had solely come off the bench 4 occasions in his eight seasons between Clippers stints, and Lue revered that sufficient to start out him. He might do the identical with Wall, who, like Jackson has a optimistic reference to George.

Possible Clippers depth chart

PG SG SF PF C

John Wall

Paul George

Kawhi Leonard

Marcus Morris Sr.

Ivica Zubac

Reggie Jackson

Norman Powell

Terance Mann

Nicolas Batum

Robert Covington

Jason Preston

Luke Kennard

Brandon Boston Jr.

Amir Coffey

Moussa Diabaté (2nd spherical rookie/two-way candidate)

Wall beginning will present him the type of spacing that maximizes his skill to get downhill within the half courtroom. The Clippers will hope that Wall can get his transition offense again as properly. (It would additionally doubtlessly permit one quirk of Leonard’s two championships to persist. Next season might be Wall ‘s 13th since being drafted. Leonard won his first title with the Spurs in Tony Parker’s thirteenth season, then his second with the Raptors in Kyle Lowry’s thirteenth season).

If Wall shifts to the second unit, he could lead on a gaggle that can positively embrace Powell and Covington and will function combos involving Terance Mann, Luke Kennard, Nicolas Batum and/or Amir Coffey. At the very least, the Clippers have bolstered their already distinctive depth with an skilled ballhandler, whether or not it’s Wall or Jackson who comes off the bench. At most, the Clippers have added a playmaking risk to go along with George and Leonard. This needs to be one of the best group Wall has been part of in his profession.

What’s subsequent for the Clippers?

Summer league begins subsequent week, and the Clippers have one open roster spot. Because of the commerce that despatched Beverley, Rondo and Daniel Oturu out final August, the Clippers have an $8.3 million commerce exception that expires shortly after the tip of summer season league this yr. The Clippers have lengthy mentioned they’re content material with not utilizing it.

But the Clippers do a necessity for one more conventional heart, they usually have a wing surplus that places a number of gamers who may very well be in rotations elsewhere beneath the second unit on the depth chart. There’s an opportunity that the Clippers wait till nearer to coaching camp to have this yr’s model of a middle battle for the ultimate roster spot. With Wall in tow, the Clippers have completed nearly all of their offseason work earlier than Independence Day.

(Top picture of Paul George and John Wall: Carmen Mandato / POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY)



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