John Wall

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.

Southeast Notes: Winslow, Chalmers, Isaac, Wall

The Heat will need to use Justise Winslow at either point guard or power forward to optimize their other main wing options, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel opines in his latest mailbag. Putting Winslow at the ‘one’ or ‘four’ would allow coach Erik Spoelstra to play rookie Tyler Herro and Dion Waiters more often with the team’s top player, Jimmy Butler. If Winslow ends up playing regularly at small forward, Spoelstra would have to choose between Herro and Waiters as a mainstay in the rotation, Winderman adds.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • A reunion between the Heat and point guard Mario Chalmers is unlikely at this point, Winderman writes in another mailbag post. Chalmers, 33, is aiming for an NBA comeback after playing in Italy last season. However, even if the Heat are interested, they’d have to release Kendrick Nunn in order to create a roster spot for Chalmers since the team is hard-capped, Winderman notes.
  • Entering his third season, Magic forward Jonathan Isaac is brimming with optimism over his team’s future after it reached the playoffs last season. Isaac likes the team’s continuity after it re-signed key free agents Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross, as he told John Denton of the team’s website. “We’re all hyped up for the season,’” he said. “And I’m sure as guys get together and start playing again, we’ll have more of those talks about, ‘Hey, we can go even farther than we did last (season).'”
  • The Wizards are closely monitoring John Wall‘s rehab process as he works his way back from a ruptured Achilles, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington reports. They are even providing owner Ted Leonsis with daily progress reports. “I used to start my day reading the Washington Post. Now I start my day reading [and watching] my daily John Wall exercise video,” Leonsis told Hughes.

Eastern Notes: Harris, Satoransky, Leonsis, Heat

Nets shooting guard Joe Harris could double his salary in free agency next summer, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic. Harris will make $7.67MM during the upcoming season and Scotto notes that veteran shooting guards received well above that figure in free agency this summer. Danny Green signed a two-year, $30MM deal with the Lakers while J.J. Redick got a two-year, $26.5MM contract with the Pelicans.

Harris might get even more, as Scotto points out that several other comparable shooting guards are making between $17.2MM and $20MM this season. The Nets hold Harris’ Bird Rights, giving them the inside track on signing him.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Tomas Satoransky‘s price tag became too much to bear for the Wizards in restricted free agency, as Fred Katz of The Athletic details. The Bulls offered him a three-year, $30MM contract and Washington felt that was too much for a player who’d be a backup once John Wall returned from his Achilles injury. A sign-and-trade was worked out that brought back a 2020 second-round pick and other considerations to Washington. Satoransky wasn’t disappointed. “I always felt like, for me, it was always harder than for others,” he said of his experience in Washington. “I had to always keep proving (myself) to people. And I always felt like, ‘Man, I’ve done enough to have that.’ So, I felt this needs a new start.”
  • Wizards managing partner Ted Leonsis will be more visible with a new front office structure in place, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “Our owners are going to be more involved,” Leonsis said. “You constantly have to gauge back and forth: is it good to be involved, or is it not good to be involved? Every agent, every player that I’ve talked to said the more they see Raul Fernandez and Laurene Powell-Jobs and me, the more connected they feel to what our vision and what our ultimate plan is.”
  • Any package that the Heat would send out in a potential Bradley Beal and Wall deal with the Wizards would need to include James Johnson, Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow and Kelly Olynyk for salary-matching purposes, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald details. Trading for Beal alone would probably require the Heat to give up their three best assets, Bam Adebayo, Winslow and Tyler Herro, but they wouldn’t realistically be able to attach a draft pick until next June, Jackson adds.

Southeast Notes: Haslem, Kulboka, Simpson, Simon

Heat veteran forward Udonis Haslem, who re-signed with Miami for a 17th season just yesterday, will not commit to this being his final season, tweets Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel.

Winderman adds in a separate tweet that Haslem will not treat the 2019/20 season as a farewell tour, but given Haslem’s primary status as a reserve for the Heat, it’s probably too presumptive to conclude from that alone that this won’t be his last season.

Finally, Winderman opines that unless someone like former Heat player Yante Maten ends up flourishing for another team in the near future, the signing of Haslem as a veteran locker room presence is well worth using up the last roster spot.

There’s more news out of the Southeast Division tonight:

  • Hornets draft-and-stash prospect Arnoldas Kulboka, a 21-year-old Lithuanian swingman who was drafted No. 55 overall in the 2018 NBA Draft, has officially signed his contract with RETAbet Bilbao Basket of Liga ACB, reports Donatas Urbonas (Twitter link).
  • Per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports WashingtonWizards point guard John Wall believes that teammate Bradley Beal will sign the three-year, $112MM contract extension being offered by Washington despite the financial reasons for not doing so, as we’ve detailed.
  • The Wizards have officially announced the hiring of Mark Simpson as the team’s new vice president of player performance. Simpson has spent the last three seasons as director of performance for the Clippers, where he oversaw the team’s player load management strategies.
  • Undrafted St. John’s rookie guard Justin Simon recently underwent a workout with the Heat, but left without a contract, reports Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

John Wall Discusses Injury, Bradley Beal, Future

Injuries have slowed down John Wall since he signed a four-year, $170MM extension with the Wizards in 2017, but he tells Michael Lee of The Athletic that he’s not interested in a fresh start with a different team.

Wall has been limited to a combined 73 games over the past two years, and he may miss the entire upcoming season while recovering from an Achilles tear. There have been rumors that Washington might try to unload Wall’s contract, but he prefers to stay with the franchise that drafted him.

“I love where I’m at. I love D.C. My loyalty is to D.C.,” Wall said. “To hear a lot of Wizards people, Tommy (Sheppard, the new general manager), (managing partner) Ted Leonsis and (Monumental Sports and Entertainment senior vice president) Zach Leonsis and all those guys, the whole community is behind me, and they’re not giving up on me, so that’s big for me.

“I’m not one of those guys that wants to play for multiple teams. I want to play for one organization. If it comes down to it, where you have to move around, and it don’t work, they’re giving me the opportunity to come back, not this year but next year after, if I don’t play well, you trade me. I can’t be mad at nobody because they gave me the opportunity and I gave myself a chance to prove myself. That’s all I ask for.”

Wall touches on several subjects during the wide-ranging interview. Here are a few more highlights:

On his sometimes rocky relationship with backcourt partner Bradley Beal:

“Me and Brad are brothers. I tell everybody, you’ve got two young guys that’s so talented. Who ain’t going to bump heads at some time? We both want to be great. We both want to take the last shot. But we built that type of bond. Brad is so mature for his age, you wouldn’t expect for him to be the age he is, but give a lot of credit to his parents and his brothers that raised him. I feel like we need one more shot. We need one more run at it. But we’ve got to add some pieces around us, some dogs that can go to war with us. I mean, me and him together, we can go against anybody.”

On the Wizards’ moves this summer that seem to be building around Beal:

“I’ve known Brad for years before he came into the league. When Brad didn’t make All-Star that one year, I said, ‘It’s crazy, he should’ve made it.’ I was vouching for him every day. It’s going to be times on the court; he don’t pass me the ball, I don’t pass him the ball. We’re going to disagree. It happens. It’s basketball. But put him in that platform, this is what he needs; this is what he should be. This is the type of rise, popular spot that Brad deserves, even if I’m there or not there. When I come back, give him the same treatment, because he deserves it. He’s put in the work. He’s earned it. You’ve seen it from Day 1. Even when John Wall is playing, John Wall is not playing. Give him that same stuff, whether I’m there or not there. He don’t have to be in the shadow. I’m the franchise guy because, yeah, I was here before him. He’s right there. There’s no John Wall without Bradley Beal. There’s no Bradley Beal without John Wall. It’s that simple. And I got nothing to hide to say that. I’m a talented basketball player. That ain’t going to get accomplished if we’re not together.”

On criticism from social media:

“It fuels me. (The) ’16/17 (season) was my best year. (Averaged) 23 (points) and 11 (assists). John Wall is a top-two point guard. I get injured. John Wall is not a top-five point guard? Now, because I’m injured, I can’t defend myself. Now I’ve got the worst contract ever? That’s fine. I deserved that contract. My whole mindset is – it’s in my notes – I didn’t deserve it? When I come back, I’m going to show them I earned it. I never want a handout. I always worked for mine.”

On dealing with an extended injury:

“The one thing I take from this is never take the game for granted. Never. Never. Never. I can’t control injuries. They happen. You can’t. Some people are healthy forever. Some are not. But don’t ever take the game for granted. I never did that. But I just started jogging. For five months. I couldn’t do nothing. I couldn’t walk. I’m thankful that I can jog and walk. And play basketball. … But if the basketball stop bouncing today, the Washington Wizards are going to get their franchise guy. And John Wall, if he stopped playing basketball today, they’ll get a new guy. If John Wall retires tomorrow, the NBA is going to keep going on. I ain’t God. It ain’t going to stop. But I’m doing what I can while I’m here, and enjoying the process. I can’t wait to get back. I got a lot of fire in my belly. I’m itching. I’m itching to get back.”

Wizards Notes: Leonis, Sheppard, Brown, Medina, Roster

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis believes the franchise can make a quick turnaround, as he told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. He believes that with backcourt stars John Wall and Bradley Beal leading the way, Washington can become a contender. However, Wall is expected to miss all of next season as he recovers from an Achilles tear.

“My belief is that you can you do things fast. We have the wherewithal and resources and facilities and technology,” Leonsis said. “If we can bring John back and, with Brad, develop our draft picks and assets, start to manage the [salary] cap, why can’t this be quick? It doesn’t need to be a five years it took when we drafted John and Brad. We can turn this one faster.”

We have more on the Wizards:

  • Leonsis indicated that new GM Tommy Sheppard and chief planning and operations officer Sashi Brown will have equal say on decisions where their duties overlap, according to NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes. There is going to be much more shared decision-making in the new front office setup. However, Brown said that basketball personnel decisions will ultimately be made by Sheppard (Twitter links).
  • Daniel Medina will also play a major front office role, according to USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt. Medina has been hired as the chief of athlete care and performance for Monumental Basketball. He will focus on medical, training, mental health, strength and conditioning, nutrition, and physical therapy and recovery. “The goal is to create a very collaborative, many-hands-make-light-work level and be prepared for the new NBA where data technology and health and wellness and all of these services merge with what is happening on the court,” Leonsis said.
  • Leonsis now believes having three max players on the roster isn’t conducive to building a successful team, David Aldridge of The Athletic tweets. Leonsis previously felt that having three max stars was the way to go but he now subscribes to the theory that spreading the wealth is a better approach. “Depth is becoming so much more important in this league, just because of the injuries,” he said.

Wizards Owner: Wall “Probably Won’t” Play In 2019/20

Speaking today to reporters, including Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link), Wizards owner Ted Leonsis acknowledged that injured point guard John Wall “probably won’t play” during the 2019/20 season.

Wall is recovering from an Achilles tear he suffered earlier this year and the Wizards are taking his recovery and rehab process slowly to make sure they get it right, Leonsis said today.

Wall is entering the first season of a four-year, $171MM super-max contract which will run through the 2022/23 season, so the Wizards will certainly be motivated to get him healthy and rebuild his value for the last few years of that deal.

Leonsis’ comments confirm what we already expected, since a report earlier this month indicated that the Wizards had applied for a disabled player exception as a result of Wall’s injury. A DPE permits a team to replace a seriously injured player by adding someone without using cap space.

Before granting the exception, the league would have to rule that the injured player is “substantially more likely than not” to be out of action through at least June 15 of the league year. There has been no word on whether the Wizards’ request been approved, but even applying for a DPE represented a tacit acknowledgement that Wall was unlikely to play in 2019/20.

If the Wizards receive a disabled player exception, it would be worth $9.258MM. The club would be able to use it to sign a player to a one-year contract worth up to that amount, or to trade for a player on an expiring contract, assuming his salary fits into the DPE. It could also be used on a waiver claim.