John Wall

Wizards Notes: Thomas, Wall, Hachimura

Isaiah Thomas is ready to return to Boston as an opposing starter for the first time since the club traded him away.“They’re gonna cheer. They’re definitely not gonna boo,” Thomas said (via Chase Hughes of NBC Sports). “I love them just as much as they do.”

Thomas, who has started the past three games for the Wizards, earned All-NBA honors as a member of the Celtics prior to the franchise trading him to the Cavaliers in the Kyrie Irving deal. The point guard is looking forward to the matchup in Boston — and showing his old franchise that he still has it.

“I visualize going for 50 on them. That’s the plan and to win the game. But I hope that night is not about me and it takes away from what this team is all about,” said Thomas.

Here’s more from Washington:

  • Thomas, who signed a one-year deal with the Wizards this past offseason, believes he can still reach his previous heights, as Candace Buckner of The Washington Post writes. “I’m going to be an All-Star again, for sure,” Thomas said. “I know that for a fact.” Thomas has made two All-Star appearances in his career.
  • John Wall isn’t pleased with FS1’s Nick Wright comparing him to Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams, as the point guard took to social media to sarcastically call Wright a “funny guy.” Wright called Wall and Goff the “anchor(s)” around their franchise’s necks “that brings them to mediocrity.”
  • Rookie Rui Hachimura recently sat down with Joe Heim of The Washington Post to his transition to the NBA among other topics. The Japanese-born forward spoke about what surprised him in making the leap to the Wizards. “Maybe that the organization is very big, and a lot of kind people work for this team. The facility is very nice, and everything is top-level,” Hachimura said.

Wizards Notes: Offense, Bertans, Beal, Wall

The Wizards are shooting more three-pointers than ever before, as I recently detailed on NBAMath. In fact, every Wizards’ rotation player is experiencing a career-high in three-pointers shot per game.

Washington is currently 1-4 on the year but the team’s offensive efficiency ranks sixth in the league. That’s an improvement on last season, when the Wizards were league average in the stat. The offseason of change in the nation’s capital has led to improvement on at least one side of the ball. Now, the defense is a story for another day.

Here’s more from Washington:

  • Candace Buckner of The Washington Post examines the Moritz Wagner and Davis Bertans pairing. The duo came to the Wizards in separate trades this offseason.
  • Wizards owner Ted Leonsis insists that Bradley Beal and John Wall have a better relationship than various reports over the years have suggested, as Matt Weyrich of NBC Sports relays. “Brad and John are way closer than the media portrays,” Leonsis said on The Habershow podcast. “They are also deeply immersed in the culture of the NBA and history of the NBA. Having a great backcourt is priority one and why would you want to, if you’re a great player, be a sidekick, if you will. And is that leading to happiness? I mean that’s the amazing thing that you see. You’ve never seen as many unhappy people as you’re seeing in the NBA.”
  • Beal recently signed an extension to stay with the Wizards for two additional years. Leonsis is happy with the new deal and talked about how he couldn’t understand why top players would go somewhere where they are not a top option. “If you get a young player and they’re a part of building your culture and the team, the culture really becomes theirs,” Leonsis said. “That’s the key thing and so if you’re gifted, and you’re gonna get paid in the NBA, why go play and be the third wheel? It’s counter-intuitive to me. Like, it’s LeBron’s team in LA. How’d it go last year? Did anyone look happy in L.A.? So Brad and John and the players here, they’re a part of something and it’s gonna be really, really hard. But [they’re] in it together.”

Wizards Notes: Brown Jr., Analytics, Wall

Troy Brown Jr. will make his season debut for the Wizards on Wednesday against the Rockets, as Candace Buckner of the Washington Post relays (Twitter link).

“I’m just happy to be back,” Brown said. “It’s just a good feeling, especially sitting out all that time and just being able to see how well we’ve been playing and just enjoying that mix of how good we’re doing right now.”

It’s unclear if Brown will start the Wizards’ home opener but it would be surprising if the second-year wing doesn’t eventually earn the nod. Here’s more from Washington:

  • Fred Katz of The Athletic details how the Wizards are using statistician Dean Oliver this season. Oliver, who formally worked in several NBA offices, was hired as an assistant coach by Washington this offseason.
  • Offseason addition C.J. Miles has about 1-2 weeks to go before he returns to the court, Grant Paulsen of 106.7 The Fan passes along (Twitter link). Miles came to Washington in the Dwight Howard trade.
  • John Wall was seen at Wizards‘ practice running and taking part in individual drills, as Chase Hughes of NBCSports tweets. The Wizards were recently denied a disabled player exception by the league for Wall’s injuries.

Southeast Notes: Augustin, Thomas, Waiters, Wall

Magic point guard D.J. Augustin plans to play until he’s 35 or 36, as he told Sean Deveney of Forbes.com. Given that Augustin turns 32 next month, that would mean another three or four seasons in the league. Augustin began this season as the Magic’s starter at the point, though the team hopes that Markelle Fultz eventually emerges in that role. Augustin, an unrestricted free agent next summer, averaged 11.7 PPG and 5.3 APG last season while making 42.1% of his 3-pointers.

“I have sacrificed a lot, I am away from my kids a lot. They’re getting older,” the Magic point guard said. “I think 35, 36 would be a good age for me to be done and just spend time with them and be more involved with their lives.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Isaiah Thomas showed flashes of his former MVP self in his Wizards’ debut on Saturday night, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post writes. He had 16 points, five assists and three rebounds in less than 20 minutes after recovering from a thumb injury. Thomas joined the Wizards on a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal after a forgettable season with the Nuggets. “There’s going to be some bad days. There’s going to be some good days,” he said. “But I’m going to be even keel throughout the process knowing that if I keep taking steps forward, I’m going to get closer to where I was and hopefully surpass that.”
  • It will interesting to see if the chemistry the Heat have forged thus far will be disrupted by the returns of Dion Waiters and James Johnson, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes. The shooting of Waiters and defense of Johnson can still help the team, though it played with a sense of togetherness in a win over the Bucks on Saturday, Winderman adds. Both are signed through the 2020/21 season, though Johnson has a player option.
  • Wizards point guard John Wall and Adidas are negotiating a buyout on his five-year footwear and apparel endorsement contract less than two years into the agreement, ESPN’s Nick DePaula reports. Wall, who is expected to miss the season as he recovers from an Achilles tear, was due to make nearly $25MM on the endorsement contract.

Wizards Denied Disabled Player Exception For John Wall

The Wizards request for a disabled player exception for injured All-Star point guard John Wall has been denied, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (via Twitter).

As both Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington and Bobby Marks of ESPN note (via Twitter), the denial does not come as a surprise, as Washington had to show that Wall would be out of action until June 15, 2020, 16 months after surgery, for an injury that generally has an 11-15 month recovery time.

Meanwhile, Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link) adds that the NBA’s denial of the Wizards’ request isn’t that big of a deal, tweeting that the team’s proximity to the tax likely would have prevented them from using the $9.258MM exception anyway.

Moreover, Katz opines (via Twitter) that it would have probably been more concerning had the DPE been granted because it would’ve meant that an independent physician determined Wall’s injury would sideline him for 16 months, begging the question as to the severity of the injury itself.

Wizards Notes: Starting SF, Bryant, Wall

Who will be the starter at small forward for the Wizards when the regular season opens up one week from today? According to the candidates laid out by Candace Buckner of The Washington Post, the race is down to three – Isaac Bonga, Admiral Schofield, and Jordan McRae – after Justin Anderson was waived earlier today.

With Bradley Beal and Ish Smith set in the backcourt and rookie first-rounder Rui Hachimura and big man Thomas Bryant likely to start up front, it’s down to Bonga, Schofield, or McRae to join that foursome in the starting lineup with both Troy Brown Jr. and C.J. Miles out injured.

“It’s still open,” head coach Scott Brooks said. “We got a lot of guys that are fighting for opportunities and, like I said, it’s not just talk — it’s wide open. Especially with all of the injuries, it’s really wide open.”

As Buckner notes, the Wizards should really opt to go with Bonga or Schofield if they are serious about a youth movement. But McRae is a scrappy veteran used to fighting for a roster spot, so it will be interesting to monitor the small forward position moving forward in Washington.

There’s more from the Wizards:

  • As Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington notes, the Wizards’ best chance to improve on defense lies with the aforementioned Bryant. The 22-year-old youngster hasn’t been much of a rim protector previously, but he possesses some natural abilities that suggest he has the potential to become one. Said Bryant, “I have to be one of those guys to make a big difference. A big man can be the anchor for the defense. I have to take that responsibility to heart every day, whether it’s in practice or the game.”
  • In another piece for NBC Sports Washington, Hughes relays that injured point guard John Wall suffered another infection after his Achilles surgery that delayed him getting out of his walking boot. “For me to be where I’m at right now, with all the setbacks and infections and then finding out my Achilles was ruptured and then going through another infection, it was like ‘man, when can I ever get past that point of just getting out of the boot and walking?'”
  • And in yet another article, Hughes writes how Wall is embracing his role as an assistant coach while out injured. Wall says this season will give him an idea of whether he wants to get into coaching someday. “I think this year will tell me whether I can be a coach or not… I think you have to have a lot of patience and you’ve gotta know how to interact with every player. Every player’s attitudes and character and mood swings are totally different. I learned from when a coach tried to coach me when I was young and I wasn’t the guy to coach.”

Wizards Notes: Injuries, Wall, Starters, Wagner

The Wizards will open training camp with several important players sidelined, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. John Wall, who may miss the entire season with a ruptured Achilles, is obviously a non-participant. He’s joined on the sidelines by Isaiah Thomas, who is recovering from thumb surgery; Troy Brown, who has a left calf strain; Ian Mahinmi, who is battling Achilles pain; and C.J. Miles, who had surgery on his left foot in July.

“We have some challenges ahead right now with our limited guys in training camp,” coach Scott Brooks admitted.

There’s more from Media Day in Washington:

  • Brooks answered “no” when asked if he’s mentally prepared to face a full season without Wall, but admitted that it’s a possibility (Twitter link). He promised the team will be patient with Wall’s rehab process, adding, “He’s not going to play until he’s ready to play 100 percent.” (Twitter link). Wall also addressed reporters, saying he will take cues from his body and is in “no rush” to return (Twitter link).
  • With so much turnover in the past eight months, the starting lineup remains unsettled heading into camp, Brooks said (Twitter link). Bradley Beal and Thomas Bryant will both be starters, but the other three spots depend on what happens during the preseason.
  • Moritz Wagner is looking forward to a greater opportunity in Washington after playing just 43 games as a rookie with the Lakers, relays Chris Crouse of HoopsRumors (video link). Wagner, who was part of the trade that sent Anthony Davis to L.A., spent much of his first season in the G League. “My agent called and told me I was traded,” Wagner said. “That’s kind of how the business goes, I guess. That’s what you sign up for. People always talk about being traded as a bad thing. I think in my situation it was the best thing that could happen to me.”

Wizards Notes: Sheppard, Wall, Roster, Brooks

New GM Tommy Sheppard indicated in a press conference this week that the Wizards will be giving a lot more minutes to younger players this year, relays Fred Katz of The Athletic. Sheppard stated that the organization wants to have each rookie play at least 1,500 minutes between the NBA and the G League. That represents a significant change from last season, when Bradley Beal led the league in minutes played and coach Scott Brooks relied heavily on his veterans.

Washington has a pair of rookies with guaranteed contracts in Rui Hachimura and Admiral Schofield, so they should see plenty of time with the Wizards. Garrison Mathews, who has a two-way deal, and Justin Robinson, who wasn’t drafted but has a chance to make the final roster, could both wind up at Capital City. Troy Brown, Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemerrio Jones, all second-year players who didn’t see much time last season, may spend time there as well.

“We gotta show them why and how it’s good for them,” Sheppard said about selling the approach to veterans. “But I think they’re active participants in it, and I think everybody appreciates that we’re trying to prolong careers. You make a bad decision on a player — they go out, and they pop a hamstring, or something happens which could’ve been avoided because of fatigue factor we didn’t recognize — that’s on us.”

There’s more from D.C., all courtesy of Katz:

  • John Wall is serving as a virtual assistant coach while he waits to return from a ruptured Achilles that may sideline him for the entire season. Sheppard said Wall is helping to teach the younger players, and the team won’t pressure him to try to return. “We’re not waiting on a calendar. There’s not a clock when he comes back,” he said. “He comes back when he’s 100 percent.”
  • The Wizards have 13 players with guaranteed contracts and may opt to go with a 14-player roster rather than the maximum of 15. “If you have 15 players and one gets hurt, (using a two-way player) is the only way you can plug it,” Sheppard said. “You have 14 players; you can sign somebody and bring them in that’s not in the G League. It gives you optionality … My vision, putting rosters together, it doesn’t make a lot of sense not to hold back a roster spot for the competition, for the inevitable injury, something.” Jordan McRae, who has a $400K guarantee, is considered likely to earn a roster spot, according to Katz, but injuries to Wall and Isaiah Thomas increase the need for another point guard.
  • Brooks, who is entering the fourth year of his five-year contract, will be judged on building a positive culture rather than wins and losses, Sheppard adds.

Wizards Rumors: Beal, DPE, Wall, Brooks

When Bradley Beal become eligible for a contract extension in July, the Wizards reportedly offered the most lucrative possible long-term deal they could (three years, $111.8MM). Two months later, they still don’t have an answer from Beal, who isn’t talking as if a new contract is his top priority at the moment.

In a conversation with NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller (video link), Beal said he hasn’t been thinking about an extension, preferring to let his agent handle his contract situation. However, he also stressed that he’s not looking for an exit from the Wizards.

“Honestly you might slap me, but I haven’t thought about it,” Beal said. “I’m just getting better and letting my agent, [GM] Tommy [Sheppard], and everybody else deal with it. I just go hoop. Every day I see somebody and they ask ‘Beal, you leaving?’ and I’m like ‘I’m still living in D.C., I ain’t going nowhere.'”

Acknowledging that he’s aware of speculation about his future and the fact that fans want an answer, Beal said that he likes being a member of the Wizards, hinting that the grass wouldn’t necessarily be greener if he were to go elsewhere.

“It’s a great thing that a lot of people love your game and want you on their team,” Beal said. “But I love the situation I have too. Not every situation would be my situation.”

Sheppard said today that he’s giving Beal space to consider the team’s extension offer, and that it will be up to him to make a decision by October 21 (Twitter link via Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington). Because the All-Star guard still has two guaranteed years left on his current contract, he can’t sign an in-season extension. As we’ve noted previously, waiting until at least 2020 to sign a new deal would give him the best chance to maximize his earnings.

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • Having assumed control of the Wizards’ front office this summer, Sheppard and his group are prioritizing players who embody the “Wizards Way,” as Gene Wang of The Washington Post relays. “I think we’re still evaluating the best way to express it, but we know what we don’t want the Wizards Way to look like,” Sheppard said. “We don’t want players that don’t want to be here. We don’t want people to have contracts that far exceed what they produce result-wise. We don’t want unhappy people that are going to cause disintegration in our locker room. That’s the way out. That’s the Wizards’ way out, so what we’re trying to onboard now, talent, of course, but high character, hard-driven, value-driven people that we can back with data that have places in our locker room.”
  • The Wizards still haven’t gotten an answer on whether their disabled player exception request for John Wall will be approved, Sheppard said today (Twitter link via Hughes). The club applied all the way back at the start of July, so it appears it wasn’t a slam-dunk decision. An NBA-designated physician will have to determine whether Wall is “substantially more likely than not” to be out of action through at least June 15, 2020.
  • Hughes adds in the same tweet that Wall will be helping out the coaching staff this season as he recovers from his Achilles tear. The veteran point guard will have a few players to whom he’s specifically assigned.
  • It will be a pivotal year for head coach Scott Brooks in Washington, according to Hughes, who writes at NBC Sports Washington that the season could go a number of different ways. It remains an open question whether Brooks will be coaching the Wizards beyond 2019/20, says Hughes.
  • The Wizards signed Chris Chiozza and finalized their 20-man training camp roster, as we detailed earlier today.

John Wall On Achilles Recovery: “Taking Baby Steps”

Wizards point guard John Wall, in the midst of recovering from a torn Achilles, is making some strides in his recovery.

“I’m great, man. Just rehabbing, working out and lifting weights. I’m shooting some jump shots, doing some ball-handling and stuff like that,” Wall said to NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller.

Wall, 29, suffered the injury this past January during a fall at his home as he was recovering from a heel injury. Given Washington’s lofty financial commitment to the five-time All-Star, the club will be counting on him to be one of its primary contributors when he’s healthy.

At his peak, Wall has shown himself as one of the premier point guards in the NBA. Just last season, he averaged 20.7 PPG and 8.1 APG in 32 contests before the injuries set in.

However, at this point, Wall is taking a conservative approach in his recovery so he does not end up re-injuring himself.

“I understand because I’ve played through injuries before that if I try to come back too soon or too fast, I could be hurt and have to start all over again. I’m not trying to go through that process again, so I’m finally taking my baby steps,” he said.