John Wall blasts Rockets, accuses GM of obvious tanking
The Houston Rockets aren't exactly the darlings of the NBA at the moment as they limp to Wednesday night's game vs. Charlotte riding an 11-game losing streak. And on Tuesday, one former Houston player levied some some serious criticism at the current state of the franchise.
Current Los Angeles Clippers guard John Wall didn't hold back when discussing his time in Houston when appearing on the Run Your Race podcast. Wall, a five-time All-Star, arrived in Houston in early December of 2020, and he said Tuesday he joined the Rockets assuming the franchise was ready to make another playoff run with Wall flanking James Harden. Such plans didn't exactly come to fruition. Harden skipped Rockets' training camp as he demanded a trade, and he was off the roster less than two month's later.
"I'm going there thinking James is gonna be there, but he already wants out," Wall said. "When I landed, I'm like, 'What's up? I'm about to land.' He's like, 'Well I’m on my way to Atlanta to go to Lil Baby's birthday.' He's asking if I want to get on the jet with him."
Wall bypassed Harden's offer and logged 40 games in 2020-21, but with Harden out of the picture, the organization's priorities didn't exactly align with that of the veteran point guard. Wall accused the Rockets of intentionally trotting out a poor roster with Harden gone, a move designed to land premium draft picks in subsequent years.
"My first year in Houston, we were tanking," Wall said. "We lost 20 in a row. We were trying to lose on purpose—tanking."
Houston was able to land Jalen Green with the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NBA draft after a dismal 17–55 campaign, and the Rockets failed to surpass 20 wins once again in 2021-22. And while Houston now has a base of young, potential All-Star talent, Wall believes the extended losing is having a notable side effect on players like Green and Kevin Porter Jr.
"I would tell them don’t get adjusted to this losing s---," Wall said. "It's a bad organization right now. They've got to fix some s---."
Wall turned in a decent statistical season with 20.6 points and 6.9 assists per game in 2020-21, but his Rockets' career came to an effective end before the start of the following season. Wall detailed Tuesday his disagreement over playing time and a starting spot, highlighting a conversation between he and Rockets' coach Stephen Silas. Wall didn't play in 2021-22, then was waived by the Rockets in June 2022.
"[General manager Rafael Stone] wants you to play 10-15 minutes a game, sometimes don't play,'" Wall recalled in a preseason conversation with Silas. The request didn't exactly sit well.
"I'm not doing that. Either you're going to guarantee me some minutes, or I'm not [playing]," Wall said. "Coach said, 'You don’t deserve that, you should be a starter. This is what they want to do.'"
Neither Stone, nor Silas have refuted Wall's comments as of Tuesday morning, and there's likely at least some measure of subjectivity in Wall's words after an ugly final year with the franchise. But as the Rockets continue to slide, Wall's comments on tanking—and its impact on Houston's youngsters—is notable to the NBA public. Stone and Silas's group isn't exactly showing signs of progress three calendar years after dealing Harden. With or without Wall, Houston hasn't been able to establish a winning culture in recent seasons.
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