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John Wall is set to join Clippers after Rockets buy out his contract

John Wall reached a buyout agreement with the Rockets, freeing the guard to pursue a return to the court with the Clippers. (Carmen Mandato/AP)
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John Wall’s long wait to return to the court appears to be over.

Wall and the Houston Rockets agreed to a buyout Monday that will allow the point guard to become an unrestricted free agent. Wall, 31, is expected to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers once free agency officially opens Thursday, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed Monday night.

Per terms of the buyout agreement, the Rockets will pay Wall all but approximately $6.5 million of his $47.4 million salary for the 2022-23 season. Wall then could roughly make up the financial difference by signing with the Clippers via their taxpayer mid-level exception. Yahoo Sports first reported Wall’s buyout agreement, and ESPN first linked him to the Clippers.

Kyrie Irving will return to the Nets on his $36.5 million player option

For Wall, the No. 1 pick of the 2010 draft who spent the first 10 years of his NBA career with the Washington Wizards, the agreement is a long-awaited fresh start. Washington traded Wall to Houston in December 2020, but the Rockets quickly entered a rebuilding cycle and opted to shut down the five-time all-star for the entire 2021-22 season. After Houston (20-62) posted the league’s worst record, it selected Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. with the No. 3 pick in Thursday’s draft.

With a long history of injury issues and multiple years left on a four-year, $170 million extension that started in 2019, Wall didn’t garner much trade interest last year. Wall last played April 23, 2021, and he averaged 20.6 points and 6.9 assists in 40 appearances for the Rockets that season. Before arriving in Houston, he missed the entire 2019-20 season following an Achilles’ injury.

The Clippers enter next season with title aspirations given Kawhi Leonard’s impending return from a knee injury. Wall would join a veteran roster that includes Leonard, Paul George, Marcus Morris, Norman Powell and Reggie Jackson. In Los Angeles, Wall, who has shared a long friendship with George, is likely to be cast in a narrower role, given that he has appeared in just 113 games over the past five seasons. But the Clippers can use another capable ballhandler in addition to Jackson, and Wall could help lighten the loads on Leonard and George.

Still, Wall will need to prove he can remain healthy, make open shots on the perimeter, protect the basketball and recommit to the defensive end. In his most recent healthy season, Wall posted a career-low 15.4 Player Efficiency Rating and shot just 31.7 percent on three-pointers.

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