On January of 2021, five time All-Star John Wall was traded to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Russell Westbrook. This was a last ditch effort for newly hired General Manager Rafael Stone to keep Houston afloat following the loss of Daryl Morey.
More importantly, this was an attempt to keep MVP James Harden happy to contend for yet another NBA Finals ring after many failed attempts in the past. Unfortunately it was a complete swing and a miss, as Harden was already exploring other options and completely checked out on the team.
This Harden trade to the Brooklyn Nets fully kickstarted a rebuild for the Houston Rockets. The 2020-2021 season was John Wall’s first time on the court since December 29, 2018. Wall went from a 2-year gap to finally playing again with a possible NBA contender.
Instead, he’s alongside inexperienced teammates, has-beens, and a new head coach in Stephen Silas. The championship window was fully shut for Houston. He was all alone with a year to prove himself to other ballclubs that he could still contribute to a team following his Achilles tear.
It’s been two years since the Wall trade happened, and he is now a Los Angeles Clipper. Wall interviewed with Tidal League last week, a YouTube sports podcast channel. They discussed his life, upbringing, and his NBA career.
They also discussed his infamous time with Houston. Wall was extremely candid, calling the experience “beyond trash.” He also chimed in on his struggling relationships with Stone and Coach Stephen Silas.
“My first year in Houston, we were tanking. We lost 20 in a row. We were trying to lose on purpose, tanking. We were starting [guys] named Justin Patton.”
Coach said, ‘How would you feel coming off the bench?’ I said, ‘For who? No offense, but for who? I was your best player last year.’
‘This is what the GM wants. He wants you to play 10-15 minutes a game, sometimes don’t play.’ I said, ‘I’m not doing that. Either you’re going to guarantee me some minutes, or I’m not. Let [a player] earn his spot.’
Coach said, ‘You don’t deserve that, you should be a starter. This is what they want to do.’
From Wall’s perspective, it appears that Silas had no say in Wall’s overall minutes. He said one thing that appeared in Wall’s favor but appeared to completely side with the eventual decision made by the front office.
The former Washington Wizard couldn’t come to an agreement with Stone with regards to his minutes. Although he was 100% healthy and could play at a high level, Wall sat out the entire 2021-22 season.
There was also a dramatic change in his involvement with the team:
“I said I’ll rehab. I workout every day. I stick around the team. Come to meetings, fly with y’all, mentor the guys. That’s what I’m doing. Then he got to the point where he (Rafael Stone) said ‘don’t come around.’ They didn’t want me around. I had to work out at 7 A.M like I was a rookie. I had to workout before they (the rest of the players) got there so like when they would come into practice I’d already be at home about 10-10:30 chilling all day.”
The front office clearly pushed a five-time All-Star away because they didn’t want him to interfere with the teams development. What they clearly should have done was to prioritize his knowledge as a veteran leadership presence. According to Wall, he was more than happy to educate the young guys.
A Symptom To An Even Bigger Issue
Wall’s issues with the team was only a microcosm of what’s transpired during the 22-23 season. This is mainly why the Rockets haven’t made the sufficient changes to develop the right players for the future.
There’s no instilled discipline in Silas’ system and the roster appears lost on the court. As of right now, they sit dead last in the NBA with a 10-35 record. It looks like doing the bare minimum on an NBA team is enough to get by in Houston.
John Wall also alluded to the fact that the current roster isn’t giving it their all this season and how other teams would handle it:
“The [expletive] y’all getting away with over there, if you go to any other teams you’d be out of the league,” he said. “You wouldn’t play. I’m trying to explain it to them, because they think it’s sweet.”
Wall mentioned this to young players such as Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., and Alperen Sengun:
“Don’t get used to this.” This is not how the NBA is. It’s a bad organization right now. They’ve got to fix some [expletive].”
While this certainly puts Houston in a bad light, there are some silver linings. Center Alperen Sengun has been progressing steadily as a formidable player on the team. With the injury to Kevin Porter Jr., Silas finally placed Sengun as the primary facilitator, and it has worked to perfection. Over the last 3 games, the 20-year Turkish phenom has averaged 24 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 6 assists in 33 minutes. Additionally, his shot selection improved, shooting 68% on fifteen attempted field goals per game.
Jalen Green has also been playing well as of late. After suffering a bad string of shooting nights, Green scored 41 points with impressive shooting splits on Tuesday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets. This was Green’s second 40 point game in his young NBA career.
Tidal League’s John Wall interview is hopefully a wakeup call for the Houston Rockets. If there is a sliver of winning culture on this team, reconstruction is needed, along with more accountability in the front office.
Watch the entire interview here.
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