June 26, 2022 | 3:50 pm EDT Update
Yet rumbles have finally begun to circulate about John Wall resurfacing as an active player next season. 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.
It is still unclear, with Wall presumed to be essentially untradeable when he’s due $47.4 million next season, how much of that salary he would have to surrender in buyout talks to convince the Rockets to let him become a free agent. The latest Wall-related scuttle does, however, suggest that a pathway for the sides to get there is at last materializing.
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.
I’ve been repeatedly asked since my Friday piece on The Jalen Brunson Sweepstakes to handicap which team is in the lead to sign the coveted point guard in free agency. That can’t be accurately done yet. The Knicks have unquestionably positioned themselves as a very real threat to the Mavericks, but presumably only Brunson and his father, Knicks assistant coach Rick Brunson, know precisely where things stand. The closest thing to certainty on the Brunson front at this juncture, as Thursday’s 6 PM ET bell for the actual start of free agency approaches, is that Detroit and Indiana are no longer being mentioned as potential destinations.
As Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer first reported on June 16, Philadelphia’s James Harden is expected to exercise his $47.4 million player option for next season by Wednesday’s deadline and then sign a two-year extension with the Sixers rather than the maximum four-year extension he would be eligible to append to the option. Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey only amplified the belief that Harden’s return is all but assured during a news conference with local reporters after last Thursday’s draft when he said: “As you guys have heard, it’s a mutual lovefest, so we feel like we’ll work it out.”
Numerous rival teams, meanwhile, say with even more conviction now than they did last week — when I first it reported on Wednesday — that they expect PJ Tucker to land in Philadelphia on a three-year, $30 million deal in free agency. If Pat Riley’s Heat can find a way now to re-sign Tucker, they will definitely surprise some people.