LAS VEGAS — John Wall, who will star alongside Kawhi Leonard and Paul George next season, said he’s excited to join an loaded LA Clippers team that doesn’t “need to be Batman every night for us to win.”
In his first comments since officially signing a two-year, $13.2 million deal with LA, Wall believes he can help fill a missing component for the Clippers at point guard.
The Clippers are expected to be in contention for a championship, with Leonard returning after missing all of last season with a cruciate ligament rupture. Wall said he’s thrilled to be joining the most talented roster he’s been a part of in his career.
“I don’t have to do it every night, I don’t have to be Batman every night for us to win,” Wall said at the Las Vegas Summer League on Saturday. “That is the ultimate goal for me [at] At this part of my career, I don’t want to have to be the Batman every night trying to win. In the 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, who were rebuilding with younger players.
Wall has only played 40 total games over the past three seasons — all in the 2020-21 season with Houston. He missed the entire 2019/2020 season due to an Achilles tendon injury. In the 2017-18 and 2018-2019 seasons, he only played 73 games in total due to injuries.
“If I get between those four lines, I don’t have an injury, I don’t think about it,” Wall said of previous injuries, including knee, Achilles tendon and heel problems. “I go out there and compete. I work hard every day to try to get back to that position, to be back in the league.
“For the last three years, I’ve been in the darkest place I’ve ever been. I don’t think many people have been able to get through what I’ve been through – losing my mother, losing my grandma, rupturing my Achilles tendon, going through all this adversity and just trying to find myself and then some of that love more than to have everything else taken from me.”
The five-time All-Star, who averaged 20.6 points and 6.9 assists for the Rockets in 2020-21, said he’s looking for a team he doesn’t have to carry the burden with and can 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, where can I go [where] I don’t have to be the John Wall of 2016 and carry the load and do all of that [things] and got the pressure on me I find [LA] I was missing a bit of point guard and it’s a great situation for me to be there.”
League sources said Wall will be competing with Reggie Jackson for the job as launch point guard. Wall welcomed the competition and said he was OK with the role he was asked to play.
“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 when you start or not? for a seat, and if I get it, I get it. And if I don’t get it then we know how talented Reggie Jackson is and what he did for this team and helped these guys especially when Kawhi and PG were out. Even when they were [healthy], he’s a great piece. Whoever gets the place is great.”
However, Wall made it clear he can still play at the level he was in 2016-17 when he averaged 23.1 points and 10.7 assists for the Washington Wizards.
“I still have all the stuff I had in 2016,” he said. “But yeah, I’ve 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’s going to be harder for them to defend themselves,” Wall said. “For me I’m happy because I don’t have to have the best player guarding me every night like I’ve had in my whole career.
“You’re telling me the third best defender has to protect me? Much luck.”