Well, that was quick. Rumors around John Wall signing with the Clippers have been going around since last year, picked up steam a week ago, really stepped up earlier today, and have now solidified with a Woj Bomb (does this warrant bomb status? Who’s to say).

Wall forwent $6.5M of his salary in his buyout with the Rockets, a number that fits snugly within the Clippers tax payer mid level deal. That contract had previously been earmarked for Isaiah Hartenstein, leaving several possibilities.

  1. Wall signs with the TPMLE, and Hartenstein leaves in free agency.
  2. Wall signs with the TPMLE, and Hartenstein stays on for the minimum on an early bird rights deal (similar to what Nic Batum did last year).
  3. Wall signs for the minimum and Hartenstein stays for the TPMLE

If Hartenstein does leave, the Clippers will have a gaping hole at backup center. The Clippers do like to play small, and if they bring Nic Batum back (all but guaranteed) that’s almost certainly who they will turn to (and/or with Robert Covington) when push comes to shove. But for the grind of an 82 game season, a true backup center is needed, and Hartenstein was one of the best in the NBA last year.

The Clippers could turn to one of the million veteran free agent centers on the market: I wrote about a handful last week. They could also make a trade. Despite what Lawrence Frank said about not trading Luke Kennard, the team with Wall now has Reggie Jackson, Wall, Paul George, Norm Powell, Terance Mann, and Luke Kennard at two guard spots, and that’s not even counting Jason Preston and Brandon Boston Jr. A consolidation trade seems more likely than ever, and at least one of those guards (obviously not George, and almost certainly not Reggie or Norm) might be heading out for a big man.

John Wall hasn’t played much in recent years. When he was in his prime, he was one of the most fun players in the entire NBA, a blur in transition who was an incredible passer and a top-tier defender when he was actually locked in. Those days are long gone, but if he’s close to healthy, he should still offer the Clippers some playmaking and scoring as well as a bit of oomph athletically. He also provides needed Reggie Jackson insurance with the Clippers so thin at point guard.

Wall is not a perfect fit. There will be time to argue over whether he or Reggie Jackson should start, and how he’ll fit next to Paul George and Kawhi Leonard in the months to come. For now, watch some highlight videos and prepare for the odd mental image of John Wall in a Clippers jersey next year.

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