John Wall

Wizards Notes: Restart, Schofield, Wall, Wade

Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard vows that the team is focused on making the playoffs despite key players missing the restart in Orlando, Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets.

“Certainly, we’re going there to win games,” he said. “We’re trying to make the playoffs. That’s 100 percent our goal.”

There has been speculation that Wizards would treat their eight “seeding” games as a de facto Summer League. Forward Davis Bertans, a free agent after the season, has chosen to sit out. Star guard John Wall will wait until next season to return from his Achilles injury. Washington trails Brooklyn by six games and Orlando by 5.5 games and needs to pull within four games of one of those teams to force a play-in round for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

We have more on the Wizards:

  • Rookie Admiral Schofield is expected to have an expanded role in Orlando with Bertans choosing not to play, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington tweets“There’s going to be an opportunity at some point for Admiral to show what he can do,” Sheppard said. Schofield has appeared in 27 games, averaging 3.1 PPG in 10.9 MPG.
  • Wall will stay in Miami while the Wizards are in Orlando to work with some coaches that won’t be in the bubble, David Aldridge of The Athletic tweets. The lack of practices during the stoppage of play cost Wall the basketball ramp-up timing he’d been gaining in workouts, according to Sheppard.
  • Washington had some interest in signing power forward Dean Wade, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. Wade agreed to a four-year contract with Cleveland on Monday.

Southeast Notes: Wall, Magic, Batum, Hornets

John Wall was feeling like his old self again before the NBA’s hiatus forced him to curtail his workouts, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic. The five-time All-Star, who has missed the entire season after a ruptured Achilles and surgery to remove a bone spur, was playing three-on-three games with teammates during the Wizards‘ last road trip before the shutdown.

“I was out there dunking, crossing over, getting to the rim, doing stuff I was doing before. And I was like, damn, I still got, like, 15 pounds to get off of before I start playing next season. And I’m like, OK, I got six or seven months to get better,” Wall said. “So, I was gonna do nothing but get stronger, get more rhythm, get more in sync with everything.”

Wall has a gym in his Miami home, but he has been limited to half-court workouts with no competition. He won’t take the court when Washington resumes the season in Orlando, but said the discomfort he used to feel every day is gone. The focus all year has been getting ready for next season.

“When I get back to getting on the court when things open up, I’m not rushing anything,” Wall said. “I’m easing my way into it, because I know I can’t just jump back out there. That’s how you end up getting yourself hurt. … It’s gonna take me time to be patient with it. It’s frustrating because you already got a rhythm. You already was like — I was having fun. I was in a rhythm, having fun. It was just dope to be hooping.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • A pair of games with the Nets will go a long way toward determining whether the Magic can overtake Brooklyn for the seventh seed and avoid a daunting first-round match-up with Milwaukee, observes Josh Robbins of The Athletic“I think what’s going to help us the most is just being in better shape than the guys we’re going to play against,” Evan Fournier said. “I think that’s what it’s going to come down to. How fast can you get in shape? And how fast can you get together as a team? That’s what’s going to make the difference.”
  • The Hornets will be one of the few teams with cap space this offseason, but GM Mitch Kupchak doesn’t plan to make a major move in free agency until next year, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. That means Nicolas Batum will likely finish out his contract in Charlotte unless Kupchak can find a way to trade him without taking back any future guaranteed money.
  • Even though Devonte’ Graham had a breakthrough season and Terry Rozier is under contract for two more years, the Hornets won’t hesitate to take another point guard in a draft that is loaded with them, Bonnell adds in the same piece.

John Wall Talks Restart, Cousins, Olympics, More

Wizards guard John Wall believes Kyrie Irving has raised some reasonable concerns as NBA players weigh the league’s restart plan this summer. Appearing on The Tuff Juice Podcast with Caron Butler, Wall suggested that he’d have reservations about playing in Orlando even if he were healthy enough to do so.

“For me, if I was playing, I wouldn’t want to go to it, to be honest,” Wall said, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “I just don’t feel like it’s safe. I just don’t feel like it is. I understand why they want to do it and what they’re trying to get to, but I wouldn’t want to.”

The Wizards are currently 5.5 games back of a playoff spot and would only force a play-in tournament if they can pull to within four games of either the Magic or the Nets. Even then, Washington would have to win two consecutive games in a play-in tournament in order to claim the No. 8 seed, which Wall seemed to acknowledge will be an uphill battle.

“If I was healthy enough to play, I wouldn’t want to go play,” he said, according to Hughes. “What am I going, just to play eight games? I’m not going for just eight games and then coming back home.”

While it may be somewhat cynical to point out, it’s worth noting that players like Irving and Wall might be more comfortable taking a stand on the issue when injuries will rule them out anyway. If they were fully healthy, it’s possible they’d feel extra pressure not to let down teammates by sitting out.

Here’s more from Wall:

  • In an Instagram Live interview with Marc Spears of The Undefeated on Wednesday, Wall said he’s still encouraging the Wizards to sign his good friend and former Kentucky teammate DeMarcus Cousins. “Oh man, you know I’m trying to push for that,” Wall said (hat tip to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington). “I’ve been on that for like five years. I want to sign him right now.”
  • Wall said that he and GM Tommy Sheppard have discussed the possibility of signing Cousins “here and there,” admitting that it might make sense for the big man to wait until next year to return — like Wall is doing. Cousins is recovering from a torn ACL.
  • During that same interview with Spears, Wall said that he’d like to play for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics next summer, and has conveyed his interest to USA Basketball (Twitter link via Hughes). The Wizards’ point guard wasn’t one of 44 preliminary Team USA finalists announced in February, but could become a more viable candidate now that the event has been pushed back a year.
  • Wall also discussed the Black Lives Matter movement and other social-justice issues in an interesting conversation with Fred Katz of The Athletic.

Wizards Notes: Wall, Beal, Monumental Sports

Wizards point guard John Wall won’t return to the court this summer when the 2019/20 season resumes, but the teammates who got a look at the rehabbing star when he played five-on-five scrimmages this winter are enthusiastic about his progress, as Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington details.

Appearing on Chris Miller’s Wizards Talk podcast, Isaac Bonga suggested that fans and outside observers may be underestimating Wall’s potential impact once he’s ready to return in 2020/21.

“I think people don’t get how still crazy-good John is right now,” Bonga said. “People don’t get it. People don’t get it. Seeing John… with us and (with) G-League (players). It’s like, man, he cannot wait. He legit can’t wait to be back out there. That’s what he (was) showing every day out there. It’s crazy.”

During Wall’s lengthy absence, Bradley Beal has taken his game to a next level, increasing his scoring average to an impressive 30.5 PPG in 2019/20. Bonga told Miller that he’s excited to see the Wizards’ starting backcourt at full strength again next season: “Having those two back out there together again? It’s going to be a big problem.”

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • A new round of Bradley Beal-related trade rumors surfaced this week, but they’re more of the same, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington, who suggests that the Wizards can’t do much but continue to laugh them off. While Hughes acknowledges that the team’s – or Beal’s – stance could change at some point, he thinks the All-Star’s future probably “isn’t worth circling back to” until after next season.
  • Monumental Sports, the company that owns the Wizards, announced this week that employees earning more than $75K will have their pay checks reduced by 20% between July 12 and the end of the year. The decision doesn’t affect NBA players or contract employees, but figures to impact some people in the Wizards’ organization. Samantha Pell of The Washington Post has the story.
  • In case you missed it, we asked in a poll earlier this week whether the Wizards will steal the No. 8 seed from Orlando or Brooklyn this summer. The consensus? Probably not.

John Wall Remains Unlikely To Return This Season

The Wizards‘ season will continue as they are one of 22 teams to head to Orlando to finish out the 2019/20 campaign. The club will play eight more games with the hope of sneaking into the postseason for more.

If they achieve that goal, they’ll almost certainly do so without the services of John Wall. Though, according to Ian Begley of (Twitter link), some Eastern Conference teams heading to Orlando are preparing as if Wall will return to the court. Perhaps rival clubs are simply leaving no stone unturned in their pre-return scouting.

Last week, during a Zoom call with the local media, including Hoops Rumors,  Wall claimed he was “110 percent” but wouldn’t commit to making the potential trip to Orlando with his team let alone suiting up and joining them on the court.

The message out of the Wizards’ organization has been pretty consistent all season: they are taking the most patient approach with regard to getting Wall back up to speed. That means the 2020/21 season will be the next time we see the former No. 1 overall pick.

Bradley Beal: Trade Rumors “A Sign Of Respect”

Despite the fact that Bradley Beal signed a contract extension with the Wizards last fall and remains locked up through at least 2022, he continues to be the subject of trade rumors and speculation. Most recently, a New York Daily News report indicated the Nets were having internal discussions about potential avenues of acquiring Beal.

That Daily News report included the caveat that the Wizards are likely uninterested in trading their All-Star guard. Beal’s agent Mark Bartelstein subsequently shot down the idea as well. Speaking to Jackie MacMullan of ESPN, Beal chose to view those rumors in a positive light, even as he downplayed them too.

“To me, I look at it as a sign of respect, that I’ve been doing good things and guys want to play with me,” Beal said. “That’s an unbelievable feeling. When you hear that Kyrie (Irving) and KD (Kevin Durant) want you, s–t, that’s amazing. At the same time, you don’t know how much there is to it, or how easy it would be to do. And I’ve put down roots in D.C. I’ve dedicated myself to this town, this community. I love it here, and it would feel great to know I could grind out winning here instead of jumping to another team.”

Beal did admit that he sometimes can’t help but think about different possibilities when he hears his name mentioned in trade rumors. However, he stressed that he has no desire to leave D.C. at this time — especially with fellow backcourt star John Wall set to be back at full strength for the start of the 2020/21 season after more than a year on the shelf with heel and Achilles injuries.

[RELATED: John Wall Declares Himself “110%” Healthy]

“My biggest thing right now is that I want to play with John again,” Beal said. “I want to see him get back to that level where I know he can be, especially since my game has grown so much (while he’s been out). What can we accomplish together? I’m so happy he’s healthy, working his tail off.”

John Wall Declares Himself “110” Percent Healthy

Wizards guard John Wall hasn’t played in a game since December of 2018, but the former No. 1 overall pick has declared himself “110 percent” healthy, as he told local media, including Hoops Rumors, via a Zoom conference call today.

“I’m itching to get back out there,” said Wall (as I relayed on Twitter). The 29-year-old added that he’s still taking his time with rehab and getting himself into the “best possible shape.”

Wall, who launched a rent-assistance foundation which will help those impacted by COVID-19 in Southeast D.C., won’t return to the court this year regardless of how the league returns from hiatus. It’s not certain that he would even travel with the Wizards to Orlando if the team is invited to join a campus-like bubble at Walt Disney World. The five-time All-Star believes that the league will return in a safe-manner and if that can’t be assured, they will “stop the season and prepare for next year.”

Wall underwent surgery on his heel back in the 2018/19 season. He was expected to come back at some point during that campaign. However, he slipped and fell in February of 2019 while recovering and he ruptured his Achilles, which forced him to go under the knife yet again.

Things will be different from an on-court perspective once the nine-year veteran returns next season. The Wizards have gotten younger and running mate Bradley Beal has turned into a more complete star after being given the opportunity to run the show.

“I’m just focused on getting back out there and watching how Brad has developed, how our team has developed,” Wall said. “We have made changes in the organization to prepare ourselves for next season and see what we can do.”

Wall has three years left on his contract after this season, including a $47.37MM player option for the 2022/23 campaign. Beal’s deal runs concurrently with Wall’s and includes a player option for that same season. Washington remains committed to the Wall-Beal combo as the future of the franchise.

LeBron, Curry Among Players Who Will Owe Money From 2020/21 Salaries

Starting this Friday, 25% of NBA players’ pay checks will be withheld for the foreseeable future. The NBA and NBPA reached that agreement last month in order to ensure that players are bearing some of the brunt of the league’s lost revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic — and so that players won’t be required to surrender a significant lump sum in a few months if games are officially canceled and the CBA’s “force majeure” clause is triggered.

However, some players will still have to return money to the league down the road rather than seeing a portion of their pay checks withheld now. While most NBA players are paid in 24 bi-monthly installments, beginning in November, some players negotiated deals that see them receive just 12 pay checks, with the last one issued on May 1. As a result, those players have already received their full salaries for the 2019/20 season and withholding part of their checks starting on May 15 isn’t an option.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN details, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, John Wall, Blake Griffin, and Paul George – all of whom are making $33MM or more this season – are among the players who have already received their ’19/20 salaries in full.

Because those players – and several others – won’t resume receiving pay checks from their respective teams until the fall, they’ll essentially owe the NBA an IOU for each pay date this spring and summer (until the 25% agreement ends), Marks explains.

By the fall, the league should better understand to what extent players’ 2019/20 salaries have to be reduced, and players like James and Curry will have money taken out of their advances for 2020/21 (on October 1) and/or their ’20/21 pay checks (beginning on November 15).

As Marks notes, the amount of money that players ultimately have to give up for the 2019/20 season will depend on how many games can be played this summer if and when the season resumes.

Players could lose approximately 23-26% of their full-season salaries if games don’t resume, according to Marks. On the other hand, in the unlikely event that the NBA is able to play its remaining regular season games and playoff games in full, teams would be responsible for returning players’ full salaries to them.

Adjusting player salaries based on the amount of games that can eventually be played should help the league avoid a scenario in which the salary cap fluctuates significantly over the next couple years based on this year’s lost revenue, since the NBA and its players share roughly a 50-50 split of the league’s revenue.

Wall: Wizards Should Prioritize Small Forward, Bench Upgrades

By the time the NBA went on hiatus in March, the Wizards had moved up to the No. 9 seed in the Eastern Conference and were 5.5 games back of Orlando for the No. 8 seed. While having a healthy John Wall may have put Washington into the playoff mix in the East, the star point guard admitted during a recent appearance on Matt Barnes’ and Stephen Jackson’s ‘All The Smoke’ podcast that the team will need some more upgrades to become a legit contender.

Asked about the Wizards’ priorities in free agency and the draft this offseason, Wall pointed to the small forward position and the bench as two areas he believes the club should be looking at.

“With me and Brad(ley Beal), who is a great cornerstone, and you have Rui (Hachimura) who is a rookie that’s in there, but I feel like we definitely need a three that’s a dog, that can knock down shots and compete and create for us,” Wall said, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “And then, we’ve also got to build a bench, just being realistic.”

In recent years, Kelly Oubre and Otto Porter have handled small forward duties in Washington, but Oubre was dealt to Phoenix in December of 2018, and Porter was sent to Chicago less than two months later. Since then, the Wizards haven’t identified a permanent solution at the position. In 2019/20, second-year forwards Isaac Bonga and Troy Brown started the majority of the team’s games at the three.

While Bonga and especially Brown have the potential to become important contributors, they’re both just 20 years old and may not be ready to play major roles on a contending team. Speaking to Barnes and Jackson on their podcast, Wall made a similar point about some of the Wizards’ youngsters, though he didn’t specifically single out any teammates.

“I love the team we have now. We have some great pieces,” Wall said. “There are a lot of young guys getting an opportunity to play that (they) would probably not have gotten on other teams. But I feel like if you want to be one of those (contending) teams, you’ve got to have veteran guys around that are willing to understand their role.”

The Wizards aren’t expected to have cap room available this offseason to pursue the top veterans on the free agent market, but the team should have some mid-level exception money available. As Hughes notes, it sounds like Wall wouldn’t be opposed to the club using its spending power on win-now pieces.

“I feel like for a couple of years in the past, we just kept trying to rebuild through the draft like you do in a lot of other sports,” Wall said. “But in the (NBA), your window is kind of short. You don’t have time for that.”

John Wall Discusses Comeback, Bradley Beal

Appearing with Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes on their “All The Smoke” podcast, Wizards guard John Wall vowed to return to the court better than ever and addressed rumors of a long-running feud with Bradley Beal, relays Jack Maloney of CBS Sports.

Wall hasn’t played since December of 2018 because of a ruptured Achilles. He’s not expected to return this season no matter when it resumes, but he told the hosts he’s keeping track of what’s been happening on the court and is ready to exact revenge in 2020/21.

“When I’m not playing, I’m watching these guys play,” Wall said. “Like these young guys, they killing our team and they looking at our bench and stuff. Just know I got those written down in my notes for when I come back when they start next season. I can’t wait to (show) them what I got, what I’m about. But I’m gonna be better than what I was before, and that’s the scary part. Damn near the whole five years I was an All-Star I played with two bone spurs in my knee and my heel. People don’t know that. They ain’t even get the best of John Wall yet, they just got a clip of him.”

Speaking about his backcourt partner, Wall said any tension with Beal stemmed from their shared desire to be the team leader. They’ve both put up impressive numbers during their eight years as teammates, but they haven’t been able to lift the Wizards into title contention.

Still, their partnership seems likely to continue. Beal signed an extension in October that will keep him in Washington through at least the 2021/22 season, while Wall is under contract for two more years with a $47,366,760 player option for 2022/23 that he seems certain to pick up.

“We both want to be stars. We both want to take the game-winning shots … But at the end of the day, they always say, ‘Well, they don’t like each other. They downgrading each other.'” Wall said. “Ain’t no John Wall without Bradley Beal. Ain’t no Bradley Beal without John Wall. We make each other better. We accommodate each other so well on the court and it works easy for us.”