John Wall

Wizards Notes: Sheppard, Centers, Wall, Draft

The Wizards will focus on improving their defense, especially on the interior, during the upcoming offseason, general manager Tommy Sheppard tells Fred Katz of The Athletic. Washington ranked last in the league in opponents’ points per possession, although the numbers were better over the last month of the season. They allowed teams to shoot 66% from the restricted area, which ranks third from the bottom.

“We’re gonna improve defensively, and a lot of that is by repetition and continuity,” Sheppard said. “We certainly look inside. Maybe we can get some more physicality there and get some more help out on the wings. There’s a lot of need that comes, but sometimes those needs get met by just staying patient (with your) players.”

Sheppard also talked about the need to find a rim protector, which the Wizards didn’t have with the center spot being manned by Thomas Bryant and Moritz Wagner, along with Ian Mahinmi, who is headed for free agency. Katz suggests Wagner could be effective as a power forward if the team can find a shot blocker for him to play alongside.

Although Washington will be over the salary cap when the offseason arrives, the team will have its full mid-level and biannual exceptions available, along with a lottery pick, to pursue a defensive-minded center.

There’s more Wizards news, all courtesy of Katz:

  • Sheppard is counting on some of the defensive improvement to come from the return of John Wall, who didn’t play at all this season while recovering from a torn Achilles. Washington was ineffective defensively with Isaiah Thomas at point guard before he was traded in February. “When you get John back, that guy was on the All-Defensive Team a few years ago,” Sheppard said. “John can contain the dribble, and that takes a lot of pressure off the defense, too.”
  • The Wizards, who occupy the ninth spot in our Reverse Standings, are planning a “best player available” strategy for the draft, Sheppard added. “You’re talking eight players 23 and younger (on the current roster),” he said. “Throw Jerome (Robinson) in that mix, this kinda gives us a little better opportunity to, ‘Hey, let’s look at the best player available.’ … It just gives you a little bit more options. You wanna draft for your need if it’s possible. But if it’s not possible, you don’t just grab somebody to grab them. You do, ‘Hey, is there somebody else that can add value to your roster?’ And maybe that person is very interesting to some other team — whatever. But I don’t think we can say today, ‘Hey, this is exactly who we need,’ because that player is just not gonna be in college or free agency.”
  • If the NBA season does resume, coach Scott Brooks cautioned that players will need adequate preparation time before games can begin. “NBA players, they can miss six or seven weeks with an injury and have three or four practices and all of a sudden come out and get you 19 points and nine rebounds,” Brooks said. “But I don’t know the answer. We definitely need some time. … I would imagine a week to 10 days is probably the best that we would get. And hopefully we get that.”

John Wall Played Pick-Up With Amar’e Stoudemire, Others During NBAGL Assignment

It has been 14 months since Wizards point guard John Wall ruptured his Achilles and the point guard was progressing nicely before the NBA suspended its season. Wall had been practicing with the Capital City Go-Go – Washington’s G League team – leading up to the hiatus, Fred Katz of The Athletic passes along in detailed piece.

“It just gets harder as you go along to collect guys off the street,” GM Tommy Sheppard said. “You want a highly competitive deal, so we sort of decided with John, it was time to play with the Go-Go (and) practice. And when we can, we’d have a scrimmage for him. It’s just been wonderful. It validates our process we have in place, to be able to utilize the Go-Go for so many functions to help the Wizards. And for them, I think those kids were freakin’ thrilled to play with John.”

The Wizards have been careful with the former All-Star’s recovery. There was never an expectation that he would play this season and even if the league resumes this summer, he won’t see the court.

Wall was scrimmaging every three days or so prior to the NBA suspending its season. He started going through controlled scrimmages with the team’s player development staff, Katz writes. He also participated in casual pick-up games with some former NBA players like Amar’e Stoudemire, Michael Beasley, and Jeremy Tyler.

The G League team would hold scrimmages roughly twice a week and Wall would get in 20-to-25 minutes of action in those contests.

Wall has publicly stated that he wanted to be a player development coach or a GM after he hangs up his jersey. He’s already begun that kind of work, helping the Wizards’ young guys improve on the court.

“He’s been an extra coach for me,” teammate Admiral Schofield said. “And it’s great hearing it from John Wall, a player you’ve grown up watching and playing against. Just feedback and little things and hearing him get excited when you make shots and him being confident in you knocking down shots is great.”

John Wall Expected To Remain Sidelined If Season Resumes

Wizards point guard John Wall, who continues to recover from an Achilles tear suffered in 2019, had been ruled out for the 2019/20 season prior to the NBA’s postponement.

Now that there’s a possibility of the NBA resuming its season as late as June or July, Wall will have extra time to get game-ready, but we still shouldn’t expect to see him back on the court before 2020/21, according to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. As Buckner explains, the original timeline that the Wizards and Wall had set remains unchanged.

“We’ve said all along that we can’t wait until John plays next season, and I think that will still be our attitude and our stance,” Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard recently said, per Buckner. “We’re very anxious to see John Wall in uniform next year. I don’t think any of this changes that.”

While the Wizards still expect Wall to be ready to go for the ’20/21 season, whenever it begins, the league’s coronavirus-related layoff may actually hinder his rehab process rather than help it. As Buckner points out, with all NBA training facilities closed, Wall no longer has the opportunity to participate in more intense workouts with teammates, Wizards staffers, and Capital City Go-Go players.

According to Buckner, Wall does have a basketball court and gym at his house, so he’ll be able to stay active during the hiatus, but he won’t be able to recreate the “day-to-day routine” he had with the Wizards. The disruption to that routine will contribute to keeping him on the sidelines this summer if and when the season resumes.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 3/10/20

Here are Tuesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

Southeast Notes: Ross, Gortat, Adebayo, Aminu

Magic forward Terrence Ross has ramped up his production in recent weeks, John Denton of the team’s website details. Ross is averaging 20.3 PPG over his last 12 games. He’s settled in comfortably as a sixth man after re-signing with the team on a four-year, $54MM contract. “I just have a better understanding of how things go over a long season and I feel like now I know what works and what doesn’t,” said Ross. “I just think I have really found my niche now.”

We have more Southeast Division news:

  • Former Wizards center Marcin Gortat regrets his rift with John Wall during his latter years in Washington, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays. Gortat expressed that in an NBC Sports podcast. “Playing with John was extremely great. I wish I could sacrifice more time to be a better leader back then, during the fourth and fifth year in the locker room,” said Gortat, who has retired. “Now I can just say ‘I wish.’ But again, five years was extremely great and amazing to me.”
  • Heat center Bam Adebayo believes the next step for him is to become a 3-point threat, he told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Adebayo has made just one 3-pointer this season and four in his young career. “That will become a conversation [with coach Erik Spoelstra] because at the end of the day, he wants me to get better,” Adebayo said. “He wants me to be unguardable. He wants me to help this team win. In the future, it will be a conversation we will have.”
  • Magic forward Al-Farouq Aminu endured a rough first season with the club, as Josh Robbins of The Athletic details. The highly-regarded defender signed a three-year, $29.2MM contract with Orlando during the off-season but he only played 18 games before injuring his right knee, which eventually required surgery“You have a lot of disappointments throughout life, and you learn how to deal with it,” Aminu said. “I’ve been just been finding the silver lining and finding other things in order to keep myself entertained and keep myself busy and keep myself being productive.”

Wizards Notes: Centers, Wall, Draft, I. Smith

Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard participated in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) session on Sunday afternoon, and while not all of his answers were especially juicy, he shared a handful of interesting tidbits with fans over the course of that Q&A.

As Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington passes along, one of Sheppard’s most noteworthy responses came when he was asked about the Wizards’ center position and how much of the team’s cap flexibility this summer might be put toward addressing it. Sheppard’s answer suggested it won’t be a top priority, according to Hughes.

“If you look at the way the game is played, it’s harder and harder to have significant money tied in to one player at the center position,” Sheppard wrote. “We found it as a necessity to do center-by-committee. We’re pleased with the progress of Thomas Bryant, Moe Wagner, and Anzejs Pasecniks.”

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • Within that Reddit AMA, Sheppard also addressed the progress John Wall is making as he rehabs his Achilles injury, noting that the point guard has scrimmaged with Washington’s G League affiliate. “We’re extremely pleased with John’s condition right now, his participation throughout the rehab process has been fantastic,” Sheppard wrote, according to Mike DePrisco of NBC Sports Washington. “I’ve never seen him this motivated to make a full recovery. We see John scrimmage with the Go-Go, we see him at practice with the Wizards. And while the rust is still there, there’s plenty of signs that point to a full recovery.”
  • Jackson Filyo of WashingtonWizards.com passes along a few more of the highlights from Sheppard’s AMA, including the GM’s comments on drafting Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown‘s position, and the Wizards’ plans for the 2020 draft. Sheppard described this year’s draft class as “deeper this year than people realize.”
  • Wizards point guard Ish Smith will be re-evaluated later this week, as his left hamstring injury has gone from a day-to-day issue to a week-to-week ailment. Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington has the details.

Southeast Notes: Capela, Fournier, Wall, Crowder

Clint Capela still hasn’t made his Hawks debut due to plantar fasciitis and a bone bruise in his heel. Capela. who is expected to be re-evaluated on March 18, says he’s still dealing with pain but the center is seeing improvement, as Chris Kirschner of The Athletic relays. The Rockets traded him in a four-team deal. “It’s way better now,” Capela said. “Before (with Houston), it was an 8, 9 or 10. Now, it’s coming back down slowly. It’s like a 7 to 5 somedays. There are still a lot of ups and downs, but it’s really progressing.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Magic swingman Evan Fournier will be sidelined for an undetermined amount of time with an elbow injury, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. He underwent an MRI which revealed a UCL sprain in his right (shooting) elbow. Wesley Iwundu will likely soak up a good portion of Fournier’s minutes since the team will likely leave Terrence Ross in his sixth man role, John Denton of the team’s website writes.
  • With John Wall‘s max extension kicking in, the Wizards franchise can’t afford to let him play this season, as David Aldridge of The Athletic explains. Wall has recovered from his Achilles injury to the point where he’s been taking part in controlled scrimmages twice a week with the Go-Go, Washington’s G-League affiliate, and working out three times a week. However, if Wall suffered a setback in an actual game, it would be devastating to the organization, Aldridge opines.
  • Forward Jae Crowder has settled into a crucial role with the Heat, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. Crowder is averaging 13.2 PPG and 6.0 RPG in 11 games since he was acquired in a three-team swap. Moreover, he played 108 of a possible 120 fourth-quarter minutes during his first 10 games with the club, Chiang notes.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/10/20

Here are Monday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA G League:

  • The Magic have recalled second-year shooting guard Melvin Frazier Jr. from their Lakeland G League affiliate, per the team’s social media. Frazier has logged time in 14 games with the Magic this season.
  • The Pacers have recalled rookie center Goga Bitadze from their G League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the team announced. Bitadze has appeared in 42 games for Indiana.
  • The Thunder have assigned rookie small forward Isaiah Roby to the Oklahoma City Blue, according to a team press release. Roby is averaging 9.5 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.18 SPG and 1.09 BPG in 20.4 minutes over 11 G League contests.
  • The Heat have sent rookie small forward KZ Okpala to their G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the team noted on social media. Okpala has appeared in five games for Miami.
  • The Wizards have recalled guards Gary Payton II and John Wall from the Capital City Go-Go, per the G League. Payton has appeared in 21 games for Washington this season. The Wizards are also sending rookie forward Admiral Schofield to the Go-Go.
  • The Nets have assigned second-year wing Dzanan Musa to their Long Island G League club, according to the G League.
  • The Jazz have sent 25-year-old rookie point guard Nigel Williams-Goss to the Salt Lake City Stars, per the G League.

Wizards GM: John Wall Not Expected Back This Season

Although John Wall has left the door open for the possibility of a return to the court before the 2019/20 season ends, Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard essentially closed that door this week, as Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays. Having mentioned that Bradley Beal‘s life will be easier when Wall returns “next year,” Sheppard was asked for a follow-up and explained that the team doesn’t expect its starting point guard back until next season.

“I think we have maintained that all along. We didn’t plan on seeing him this year,” Sheppard said. “I think that’s fair to John, to manage the expectations for him. He’s on his way, but he’s not there and he’s not close yet. He’s a lot closer than he was a year ago when the injury happened.”

Given the Wizards’ 17-32 record, it makes sense that the team will be cautious with their star point guard and give him a few extra months to get to 100%. When he spoke to Chris Miller of NBC Sports Washington about visualizing his first game back, Wall talked as if he’s targeting opening night in 2020/21.

“I’ve gotta be honest with you, if our first game isn’t in D.C. then I probably won’t play,” Wall joked. “Just to be realistic. I’m going to try to force the NBA for my first game to be at home next season.”

Let’s round up a few more Wizards notes…

  • Sheppard said on Thursday that almost every playoff team in both conferences inquired on Davis Bertans, Hughes writes for NBC Sports Washington. The Wizards hung onto Bertans and will aim to re-sign him this summer. “There was never a doubt in my mind that we wanted to keep him,” Sheppard said. “But I promise you that the more you say you want to keep somebody, the more teams don’t want to believe you and they keep calling.”
  • Jerome Robinson hasn’t made major strides during his first two NBA seasons, but the Wizards liked him in the 2018 draft and are confident in a player development program that has had success with other young players like Moritz Wagner, says Fred Katz of The Athletic. Washington acquired Robinson from the Clippers in one of the team’s two deadline-day deals.
  • Within that same story, Katz passes along word that the Wizards haven’t discussed a possible buyout with center Ian Mahinmi, who is on an expiring contract. “We’re obviously always open to anything that makes us better. But I wouldn’t even go down that road right now,” Sheppard said of the possibility. “Ian has done a great job for us this year, and he’s been a great leader, great professional for us.”
  • Katz confirms (via Twitter) that the Wizards acquired Shabazz Napier‘s contract in their trade with Denver using their disabled player exception. Washington was the only team to use a DPE at the deadline.

Wizards Notes: Beal, Wall, Bonga, Hachimura

Bradley Beal still believes he belongs on the All-Star team, but said he’s focused on other things as he addressed reporters last night, including Chase Hughes of NBC Sports. Beal seemed like a glaring omission when the All-Star reserves were announced Thursday. He’s tied for fifth in the league in scoring at 28.8 PPG and has the injury-plagued Wizards on the edge of the playoff race.

“It doesn’t make me or break me. It doesn’t define me as a player,” Beal said of the All-Star snub. “The one thing I won’t do is disrespect anybody that made it. Everybody that made it is deserving of it. I’m past it.”

He also expressed appreciation to all the analysts who have spoken up on his behalf since the rosters were revealed. Beal is the first player scoring more than 28 points per game to be left off the All-Star team since 1985.

“At the end of the day, I’m not about to sit here with this sad cloud over my head like why I should be in. All of my peers come up to me after every game and say it. Coaches say it,” Beal said. “I just wish we had this same mindset three or four years ago when I got snubbed and we had the fourth seed.”

There’s more Wizards news to pass along:

  • During warmups before Saturday’s game, John Wall may have sent a message that he plans to return before the end of the season, writes Mike DePrisco of NBC Sports. In a video tweeted by Hoop District, Wall sinks a turnaround jumper over an assistant coach and tells a group of fans, “Don’t worry, y’all get to see this soon.” Wall has been making progress in his recovery from a ruptured left Achilles tendon.
  • As the Wizards get healthier, some fill-ins are going lose playing time, but coach Scott Brooks said Saturday that he plans to keep Isaac Bonga in the rotation. The second-year swingman has started 29 games in his first season in Washington.
  • Rui Hachimura wasn’t used last night, but the Wizards remain optimistic that he will return soon, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. The rookie forward hasn’t played since suffering a groin injury December 16, and Brooks said he still has to shake off some rust.