NBA free agency: Clippers land John Wall on two-year deal

John Wall and the Clippers are officially together.

The five-time All-Star point guard agreed to a two-year contract worth $13.2 million, his agency, Klutch Sports, announced Friday, an amount that matches the figures for the full taxpayer mid-level exception.

Wall, 31, has not played in the NBA for 14 months because the point guard, one of the league’s most dynamic stars because of his blinding speed before heel and Achilles’ tendon injuries, did not fit the Houston Rockets’ plans for a ground-up rebuild. The Rockets paid Wall $44 million last season not to play a single second. After Wall and the Rockets agreed to a buyout in which he gave back $6.5 million of the $47 million he is due this upcoming season, Wall had to clear waivers before he could negotiate with the Clippers as an unrestricted free agent.

In a matter of days, Wall has gone from a team trying to build a foundation to a Clippers roster attempting to end next season perched atop the league.

In Wall’s last season he shot 44% inside the arc and 31.7% on three-pointers, both slightly below his career averages. That was on a Rockets team in which he was the de factor scorer. Team president Lawrence Frank has described positions in the modern NBA with descriptions such as “play starter” and “play finisher.”

Surrounded by scorers such as Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, Wall’s responsibility as a play finisher would seem to be lessened and his greatest strength utilized as a starter. For a Clippers offense that could be plodding and stagnant, Wall’s quickness to dribble into the paint fits coach Tyronn Lue’s drive-and-kick offense. That speed also makes him a threat in transition, an area where the Clippers did not consistently capitalize last season, ranking 21st in points off turnovers and 17th in points per game in transition.

In Lue’s two seasons the Clippers have enjoyed success taking older players with diminishing statistics and reviving their careers dramatically, first with point guard Reggie Jackson and then forward Nicolas Batum. Wall is the third such project the team hopes will provide veteran efficiency at a steep discount on their books.

With Wall’s signing the Clippers now have 14 standard contracts and one spot still available. They have just one traditional center on the roster, 7-foot Ivica Zubac. Their handling of the final roster spot last season — holding it open to allow for a training-camp competition between backup centers — could be the template for this time around.

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