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NBA Week: $128 million to NOT play basketball - John Wall the world's luckiest sports star

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Expert
9th December, 2021
3
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John Wall would have to be the luckiest professional athlete – he’s being paid not to play to the tune of $US91.7 million.

It sounds even crazier if you put it in Australian dollars – $127.8 million to sit out this NBA season and the next one.

Houston, who acquired Wall from Washington a little more than a year ago in a trade for Russell Westbrook, don’t want him to play because they’re concerned the former All Star point guard will cause them to win games. Now we can’t have that.

Because of the massive dollar value left on the deal he signed when he was a marquee player at Washington before back-to-back serious leg injuries struck, the contract is as close to untradeable as they come in the NBA.

The Rockets picked second in the NBA Draft this year, taking Jalen Green, and they want a high lottery pick again in 2022 and by building a season without Wall propping them up, they’re hoping their record keeps tumbling down.

This is a terrible look for the NBA but they seem reluctant to do anything about this farcical situation.

Last year, Oklahoma City pulled a similar stunt when they told veteran power forward Al Horford his on-court services weren’t required as they tanked away the closing months of their season.

They also sat rising stars Shea Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort despite no apparent injuries in their bid to draft Oklahoma State prospect Cade Cunningham.

The draft gods conspired against them and they ended up with the sixth pick in the lottery but managed to convert that into what looks like a very valuable selection – young Australian guard Josh Giddey.

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Josh Giddey for OKC

(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

What makes the Wall situation at the Rockets even more ridiculous, pushing it officially into ridonculous territory, is the fact that he now wants to play but the team won’t let him.
Wall reportedly wants to return to action as a starter, Houston management supposedly only want him to play if he comes off the bench and the stalemate drags on.

The Rockets are hiding behind the excuse that they don’t want Wall – who averaged 20.6 points and just under seven assists in 40 appearances for the franchise last season – to stymie the development of their inexperienced squad by taking away minutes from young prospects.

It’s time for the NBA to step in. When Philadelphia were deliberately putting a substandard team on court for three straight seasons, the NBA intervened in “The Process”, resulting in GM Sam Hinkie being replaced when league-appointed chairman Jerry Colangelo gave the job to his son Bryan.

The NBA’s decision last year to flatten the lottery odds to discourage tanking was a step in the right direction but clearly not enough to prevent struggling franchises from taking the easy way out by losing their way to the right to choose the best new talent entering the league.

It’s bizarre that pro sports in the United States, the global home of capitalism, favour a talent distribution where the strong teams are punished and the weak ones are rewarded.

Nearly as weird as paying someone a nine-figure sum to do absolutely nothing.

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Aussies in the Big Show
Dante Exum was cut by the Houston Rockets before the start of the season – a short-sighted move given they acquired him as a throw-in player in the James Harden four-team trade from Cleveland and they’re rebuilding this year so why not take a punt on the former lottery pick? He has signed a short-term deal with Barcelona – hopefully it’s the right move to get Exum back into the NBA. If he can replicate his Boomers form from the Olympic bronze medal campaign, he will surely get a roster spot back in the big time sooner rather than later.

Dante Exum of the Australian Boomers dribbles the basketball

Dante Exum. (Photo by Pete Dovgan/Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


Out of the box scores: Stat of the week
Memphis became the first team since the 2008 Mavericks to win five straight games without trailing in any minute of those matches – and even more remarkably, they did it while star guard Ja Morant has been sidelined with a leg injury. Coincidentally, Dallas ended their streak with a 104-96 win over the Grizz on Thursday.
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Weekend must-watch
Saturday – Nets @ Hawks, 11.30am AEDT
Brooklyn keep on keeping on at the top of the east, even without Kyrie Irving, while Atlanta have regrouped and are pushing their way back up the standings like last season when they also had a terrible start.

Sunday – Bulls @ Heat, 12pm AEDT
Chicago are missing a few key players due to the dreaded healthy and safety protocols and Miami star Jimmy Butler has been out for the last few games with an ankle problem – if he’s any chance of being fit for this game against his old club, Butler will be doing all he can to get on the court.

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