Perhaps most surprising about John Wall's maximum-salary extension with the Wizards is the timing of the deal. The team could have waited to re-sign him in restricted free agency next summer. GM Ernie Grunfeld and company could also have saved negotiations for later this offseason, since most rookie-scale extensions aren't signed until the October 31st deadline approaches.
Instead, as soon as the team was eligible to make an offer, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis hopped on a plane to Los Angeles, where Wall makes his offseason home, to begin talks. Leonsis spoke to the media today about the deal, and J. Michael of CSNWashington.com rounds up several of his remarks. We'll pass along a few here:
On what Wall has proven in his career:
"John and I talked about what we had to do the day we drafted him. It was going to be very painful. Rebuilds are hard. We've had 100% turnover of our team. We owe a lot to our fans for the patience that they've shown and also to the players because it was going to be messy. We're through that point now. I felt that John earned this because of what he'd been through and his level of commitment. Ernie and the staff crunched a lot of numbers. There's a lot of analytics that go into it to show where John ranks and what his upside his. … I thought he was our foundational player and that he deserved to be a max player."
On the challenge of rebuilding and what the deal means for the franchise:
"We’re very, very fortunate that John embraced that challenge early on. Also frankly, (agent) Dan Fegan believed in that was well. John would be a very highly sought-after player around the league. He has probably the most upside of all of the point guards that are out there. To be able to secure his services for five years plus the year that he’s playing this year (for $7,459,925) really gives the fan base, the team, the coaching staff the wherewithal to know that we’ll have stability and we’ll continue to build systematically around what John’s gifts and skills are."
On the benefits of locking up Wall so early:
"By doing this, it should send a message to John and the team that we're about team results, not about individual stats. Everyone has their contract, everyone is taken care of. There is nothing to worry about. There are no distractions. I also made a commitment to having a drama free off-season. I think this organization has had enough drama."