Washington Wizards point guard John Wall made news among the national NBA audience Tuesday when it was reported that he wants to see the team’s future plans before signing a extension. Despite the huge amount of money available to him because of his All-NBA selection, Wall knows that he needs to be cautious with his approach. He is pushing management’s hand to be more effective in its actions, something that should not alarm fans, and should help the team moving forward.
On Tuesday, J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic ran a story proclaiming that “Wall wants to see a bigger picture plan on where the franchise is headed before committing for longer.”
National media imagined a scene in Washington, D.C. similar to something out of Olympus Has Fallen.
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Despite the fact that Wall has two years left on his contract and just led his team to its best regular season record in 38 years, fans circled like Alabama and LSU doing recruiting in the Gulf.
For Wizards fans though, it was a breath of fresh air. It’s felt like GM Ernie Grunfeld has been on a warm seat for years now, and despite seemingly idiotic choices soon there after (see Jan Vesely and Ian Mahinmi) he is one of the longest tenured executives in the NBA.
He’s made great draft choices at the top of the draft, but every other selection hasn’t worked out. Meanwhile, he has one of the best and most exciting starting lineups in the league, and a superstar point guard to run the show.
While fans of the team may have felt that Wall was a superstar before this season, in 2016-17 he officially claimed that praise from the national media.
As a “superstar” there are various duties he must take to support and ensure the team succeeds.
Obviously he must continue to play at a superstar level and he’s already become a more outspoken leader. Now, Wall has taken this as his chance to let management know what he expects of them.
Maybe my favorite, yet saddest memory since the end of Game 7, was the report that Wall walked on to the bus after the final game in Boston and said, “Forty-eight to five. Our bench had five points.”
It was such a real emotion that he expressed after playing 44 minutes in the loss. He acknowledged in his exit interviews that the large playing time got to him. He simply had no legs left by the end of the game, leading to his 0-11 shooting stretch to end the game.
While management may not be able to tell Wall exactly what they will be doing, showing him the plan will go a long way towards strengthening the relationship between superstar and GM’s office.
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Superstar players have a long history of doing way more than request to see the big picture. Players have asked for specific help via trade, and given their opinions on coaching hirings and free agent signings.
Luckily, Grunfeld has a young player who seems committed to the movement, and an owner who is patient with him despite his vast array of apparent mishandlings.
If fans had their choice he’d be gone, and he would have been gone years ago.
With the way the starting unit played this season, I’m sure Grunfeld’s pitch will focus on three areas.
Firstly, bringing in or developing a bench point guard who can allow Wall to play less minutes moving forward. This also needs to be a point guard who can tun the offense effectively to limit the instances where a lead evaporates once the team’s best players take a breather.
Building off of that, Grunfeld will talk about his plan for building the bench as a whole. They need more scoring and players who can move the ball and create scoring opportunities. Bojan Bogdanovic was great at times this season, but was still someone who did better catching and shooting or playing isolation basketball.
Lastly, he has to talk about how the Wizards plan on bringing in a third star. Bradley Beal had a great offensive season, averaging the same amount of points per game as Wall (23.1). Still, with the bench play and current league landscape, having a third star is the most important aspect.
The Wizards’ cap situation is very complicated this summer, with nowhere near enough room to bring on a max contract, but I assume Grunfeld will look ahead to 2018.
Two of Wall’s best friends in the league will be free agents at positions of need. The saga of Paul George has been beaten to death, but assuming he doesn’t sign an extension with the Pacers or a team that trades for him, he could be at the top of Ernie’s list.
Washington would have to trade some contracts to sign a max player, but with the new upcoming contract of Otto Porter and the large contracts of Marcin Gortat and Mahinmi, a deal could be made to unload a large amount of salary.
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Secondly, Wall has to be expecting management to discuss the possibility of signing Demarcus Cousins when he becomes a free agent. Similar to Paul George, he’s in a bit of limbo.
The New Orleans Pelicans traded for him just before the trade deadline, but the fit was somewhat problematic early on.
Cousins is also an interesting look,because although one of the best centers in the league, he has never made the playoffs. If the Pelicans miss out on the postseason again in 2018, it’s reasonable to think Cousins will leave. Considering his relationship with Wall, it has to be considered.
Either way, I’m happy to see Wall holding management accountable. He, Beal, Porter, Markieff Morris, and Gortat (for the most part) took care of business. The first three improved since the season before, and the latter two played well in their roles.
A winning team doesn’t simply come from players performing to the best of their abilities. Coaches and management have to excel at their jobs as well.
The Golden State Warriors have four perennial All-Stars, yet the reason they are there is because of excellent decisions upstairs.
Drafting Draymond Green in the second round. Committing to Steph Curry despite his problematic ankles. Not trading Klay Thompson for Kevin Love despite fierce opposition from national media. And being great at the right time, when one of the best players in the league in Kevin Durant becomes available.
Washington envisioned a summer of riches in 2016, yet because of an underwhelming non playoff season and other factors, the team came out with scraps.
I hope the bigger picture presented to Wall is more successful than the previous versions that have been laid out.