LAS VEGAS — Set to play alongside Kawhi Leonard and Paul George next season, John Wall said he’s thrilled to join a busy LA Clippers team that won’t need him to be “Batman every night. for us to win”.
In his first comments since officially signing a two-year, $13.2 million deal with Los Angeles, Wall believes he can help fill a missing piece for the Clippers at point guard.
The Clippers are expected to fight for a championship with Leonard back after missing all of last season with a torn right ACL. Wall said he was thrilled to join the most talented team he’s been on in his career.
“I don’t have to do this every night, I don’t have to be Batman every night for us to win,” Wall said Saturday at the Las Vegas Summer League. “That’s the ultimate goal for me, that’s [at] this part of my career, I don’t want to be the Batman every night trying to win. In our team that we have, I think anyone can be Batman.”
Wall, who turns 32 in September, has not played in the NBA since April 23, 2021. He sat out last season with the Houston Rockets, which were rebuilding with younger players.
Wall has only played a total of 40 games — all in the 2020-21 season with Houston — over the past three seasons. He missed the entire 2019-20 season with an Achilles tendon injury. He also only played a combined total of 73 games in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons due to injuries.
“When I’m between those four lines, I don’t have an injury, I don’t think about it,” Wall said of past injuries, including knee, Achilles and heel issues. “I go out there and compete. I work hard every day to try and get back to that position to be back in the league.
“For the past three years, I’ve been in the darkest place I know. I don’t think many people could have gone through what I went through – losing my mother, losing my grandmother, tearing up my Achilles, going through all this adversity and just trying to find me and then get some of that love more than anything that was taken from me.”
The five-time All-Star, who averaged 20.6 points and 6.9 assists in 2020-21 for the Rockets, said he was looking to join a team he wouldn’t have to carry the load with and could thrive alongside talent.
“I really didn’t care about all the other teams,” Wall said of those who were interested in him before deciding to join the Clippers. “The other teams are great, and I’m glad the teams wanted to come after me, but I kind of looked at the picture like, where can I go [where] I don’t have to be the John Wall of 2016 and I gotta carry the load and do it all [things] and have the pressure on me. I think [LA] There was a piece missing from having a playmaker, and it’s a great situation for me to be there.”
League sources said Wall will be competing for the starting point guard position with Reggie Jackson. Wall praised the competition and said he was okay with the role he would be asked to fill.
“For me, I’m just happy to be playing basketball again,” Wall said. “I’m a competitor. I know a lot of people ask me, are you mad if you start or don’t start? I don’t care. I’m a competitor, and I just want an opportunity to go there- down and compete for a spot, and if I get it, I get it. And if I don’t, we know how talented Reggie Jackson is and what he’s done for this team and helping these guys, especially when Kawhi and PG were away. Even when they were [healthy], it’s a great piece. Whoever gets the spot is great.”
Wall, however, made it clear he could still play at the level he was at in 2016-17, when he averaged 23.1 points and 10.7 assists for the Washington Wizards.
“I still have everything I had in 2016,” he said. “But like, yeah, I only played 40 games [two seasons ago]but last year wasn’t my fault or my choice, and I couldn’t control that.”
And with this Clippers team, Wall thinks he’ll be a problem for opposing defenses.
“It will be harder for them to defend,” Wall said. “For me, I’m happy because I don’t need to have the best player guarding me every night like I’ve had my whole career.
“Are you telling me the third-best defender is going to have to keep me? Good luck.”