Don’t expect John Wall back with the Washington Wizards this season

Washington Wizards John Wall (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards John Wall (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

Nothing is set in stone, but it sounds like the Washington Wizards have no plans to bring back John Wall this season.

If you had asked me over the summer if John Wall would play for the Washington Wizards this season, I would have given you a pretty emphatic ‘NO.’ If you asked me that same question a few weeks ago, after the Wizards were denied their Disabled Player Exception for Wall, I probably still would have said ‘no,’ but a lot less emphatically.

Then something happened, and my answer changed. Last week, before the Wizards took on the Boston Celtics, John Wall threw down a dazzling pregame dunk. After that display, I was convinced we’d see Wall before the season’s end.

Now, I’m not so convinced anymore. While unveiling some jaw-dropping outdoor courts at the Ferebee Hope Recreation Center in Southeast D.C. (seriously, check these things out), Ted Leonsis changed my mind.

How? He doubled down on his John Wall diagnosis from earlier this year.

Before the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Leonsis shed some light on Wall’s injury timetable.

Per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis does not expect to see Wall back on the court this season.

Now, this is no guarantee that Wall’s been shut down for the season, but, coming from the owner himself, it’s pretty darn close to a guarantee. And it’s in line with everything we heard from the Wizards during the offseason, during training camp, and through the regular season.  While the team never technically ruled Wall out for all of the 2019-20 season, “patience “was a word that kept coming up.

No matter how good Wall’s looked in practice videos, Leonsis’s remarks should not come as a surprise.

The Wizards don’t want to rush Wall back. However, they are currently sitting at the bottom of the conference standings with a 3-8 record. Wall could be a huge help. A few weeks- maybe even months -of John Wall to close the season would undoubtedly improve the Wizards’ point guard play. They look outmatched at that position more times than not. And maybe the All-Star could help them sniff the playoff race.

But at what cost? Do the Wizards even want that? Believe it or not, they actually benefit quite a bit from keeping Wall on the sidelines.

For one, they don’t risk re-injury due to rushing him back. Wall already suffered an injury while rehabbing. They should make sure he comes back from this injury healthy rather than quickly.

Also, the goal this year is development, not the playoffs. So what good does a late-season push do this team? Sneaking into the playoffs with 41 wins only to suffer a first-round exit doesn’t make sense for the future. A high lottery pick does. By putting Wall back in the lineup, the Wizards will jeopardize their position in the draft and, to a degree, their future.

By keeping Wall on the sideline, the Wizards keep him healthy, at least for now. They have nothing to play for, so why risk damaging something that hasn’t been right since the 2016-17 season?

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Wall makes the Wizards a better team. There’s no denying that. But they don’t necessarily want to be better right now. Without Wall, the Wizards will continue to trot out a lineup that allows them to focus on development while almost guaranteeing they remain lottery-bound.

Keeping John Wall sidelined is a twisted win-win that the Wizards hope results in a healthy John Wall and a lot of future victories.