John Wall

Southeast Notes: Borrego, Wall, McGruder, Monk

As we wrote yesterday, the Hornets have no immediate plans to blow up their roster. Yet, a culture change is definitely in the works with new head coach James Borrego, who brings with him the winning culture of Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs, a franchise with five championships and a sixth NBA Finals appearance since the 1998-99 season.

While Borrego is not Popovich, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer opines that there are four great habits he learned from Popovich that he can bring to the Hornets – great ball movement, getting the best out of your players, the ability to positively impact a locker room, and perhaps most importantly, develop talent.

As Bonnell notes, the more important quality the Hornets were looking for in its next head coach was player development. And while the Spurs front office gets a lot of credit for its ability in the draft, having a coaching staff adept at developing players is just as important.

Some examples of players who the Spurs drafted low and turned into serviceable NBA players include Tony Parker (28th overall), Manu Ginobili (57th), George Hill (26th), Tiago Splitter (28th), and Dejounte Murray (29th). Moreover, the Spurs developed Danny Green (46th) after acquiring him as a free agent. To that end, the Hornets hope that the hiring of Borrego will help develop its two young players drafted last summer – Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Candace Buckner of The Washington Post opines that although the leadership of John Wall was at times questionable this season for the Wizards, the situation would’ve been helped if Wall was able to play more, using his on-court leadership skills as opposed to trying to lead off the court.
  • Heat swingman Rodney McGruder is looking forward to returning to the hardwood next season and working to win back a spot in the rotation after missing 64 games during the 2017/18 campaign, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel.
  • In another piece for The Charlotte Observer, Bonnell looks at how Monk will fit into the Hornets’ plans. According to new head coach Borrego, “I see him as a playmaker, who can play with Kemba (Walker) and also be on the court without Kemba, creating offense for us. (Or) pairing him and Nic Batum in a lineup where Nic is facilitating. He’s a combo (guard). I don’t know until I get my hands on him where I’m going to put him or how we’re going to play him. But he’s just going to be a very good basketball player who fits today’s NBA.”

John Wall Displeased With Wizards’ Roster?

Fresh off a loss to the Raptors in Game 6 of the First Round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs, Wizards’ point guard John Wall spoke at length on Saturday about changes he’d like to see to the Wizards’ roster next season, writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. When asked what type of players should be added to the roster, Wall pulled no punches, yet was quick to assure that his postseason evaluation was not directed at any particular teammates.

“There’s a lot that we can use. I really don’t have to say certain positions. There are certain things that people who have been around the team understand what we could use to help our team. It’s not throwing shade to anybody that is on our team because everyone that is on our roster gave everything they have to make it work and fit with the team, but at the same time, when it’s not working and then you try and you try and you try and it keeps failing over and over, then you have to make certain adjustments and certain changes.”

Wall further elaborated, telling reporters he is in support of the Wizards bringing in an “athletic big”, which could of course be interpreted as a slight at Marcin Gortat, who clashed with Wall when Wall was injured earlier this season, and little-used big man Ian Mahinmi who, in hindsight, was grossly overpaid in the spend-happy summer of 2016. Combined, Gortat and Mahinmi will make just north of $29.5MM next season.

Unfortunately for the Wizards, adding worthwhile free agents this offseason, per Wall’s imploring, will be no easy task. Washington already has nearly $116MM tied up in guaranteed contracts for 2018/19, not counting player options for Jason Smith and Jodie Meeks. Should both players opt in, the Wizards payroll would reach $124.8MM – $1.8MM more than next year’s projected luxury tax threshold of $123MM and nearing the apron – before free agency even begins.

Given that the $124.8MM figure only includes 10 players, the Wizards best tool will likely be their taxpayer mid-level exception, which is projected to be about $3.3MM less than the non-taxpayer mid-level exception and limited to three seasons rather than four. Players looking to cash in on a MLE deal this offseason stand to make about an additional $19.2MM over the life of a non-taxpayer MLE contract, thereby lessening the Wizards’ chances of luring meaning free agents to the nation’s capital this summer. For his part, Wall thinks players should nevertheless entertain the idea of coming to Washington.

“I think those guys that are watching and seeing understand what they can add and what we might need to make our team better to finally get over the second round or get through the first round like we didn’t this year.”

John Wall Talks Teammates, Front Office, Offseason

Another early postseason exit for the Wizards means another offseason full of questions for the organization and All-Star John Wall. After losing to the Raptors in six games, Wall and other members of the Wizards met with the media for an end-of-season press conference. Wall vocalized his frustrations with the team and what he thinks can be done to improve the situation.

As Candance Bucker of The Washington Post writes, Wall called out his teammates and challenged the front office to put together a team that is on the same page. The 27-year-old appeared in just 41 games this season after knee surgery sidelined him for several months. In that time, he and teammate Marcin Gortat exchanged words in the press, which both men downplayed. Washington backed its way into the postseason, ending up with the eighth seed.

The entire story is worth reading, but here are some highlights from Wall’s media session:

On his teammates being on the same page:

“I don’t put the pressure on everybody else. I put the pressure on myself because I am that franchise guy. I am the guy that has to be the leader of the team, that has to get everybody better, make everybody better on my team. At the same time, if I’m doing my part, the other 14 guys on my team have to do their part at getting better every year. Just being true to the team. Our problem at a lot times is guys don’t understand their role and respect their role.”

What the Wizards need to improve their roster:

“It’s pretty obvious. I don’t need to point it out. I think the way the league is going, you need athletic bigs, you need scoring off the bench, you need all of those types of things. We don’t really have an athletic big.”

On the front office and what it needs to do this summer:

“I don’t know. It’s up to them to make the decision. Like I said, whoever comes back, whoever stays, what it is, we deal with it because those are our teammates. Those guys do the best they can. They have the ability to help us out as much as possible. We know what it is, what the situations are. That’s up to the front office to decide. If they want to make any changes or keep guys. At the same time, you kind of know what guys want to be here from what people have said in the past or what they haven’t said.”

On his teammates understanding their role:

“Some people don’t understand their roles, so if you don’t understand your role and you think you deserve a bigger role, that’s not about to happen.”

Wizards Notes: Durant, Wall, Gortat, Morris

The Wizards are still suffering the consequences of their decision to chase Kevin Durant when he was a free agent in 2016, writes Ashish Mathur of AmicoHoops. Washington elected to pass on a talented 2015 free agency market that included Al Horford, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, Paul Millsap and Khris Middleton because the team wanted to preserve cap room for a run at Durant.

The Wizards went a couple of steps further, hiring Durant’s former Oklahoma City coach, Scott Brooks, and bringing on David Adkins, part of the coaching staff on Durant’s high school team, as a player development assistant. Despite those moves, Durant, who grew up near Washington, never gave serious consideration to returning home and didn’t even meet with the Wizards.

There’s more Wizards news from today’s exit interviews:

  • John Wall indicated that the front office needs to shake up the roster this summer, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Wall, who clashed with center Marcin Gortat over social media comments earlier this season, said the team needs to find “athletic bigs” for next year. “We added some pieces to help us out at times … but at the same time front office people need to figure out what really fits with the team,” Wall added (Twitter link).
  • Gortat, who is entering the final year of his contract, remains confident that he has “a lot in the tank.” (Twitter link). He said he hopes to get back to a more physical style next season and criticized small-ball lineups, which he called the “worst thing” in the NBA.
  • Markieff Morris told reporters he underwent minor groin surgery last summer in addition to the sports hernia operation that was known about (Twitter link). Morris, who missed the start of the season because of the procedures, twice said the Wizards’ problems with consistency are linked to “immaturity.”
  • Majority owner Ted Leonsis penned a thank you letter to Wizards fans on social media and praised the team for remaining competitive with Wall sidelined for half the season.

Poll: Breaking Up The Wizards’ Backcourt

After winning their division and taking the Celtics to the brink in a second-round series last year, the Wizards entered this season among the favorites in the Eastern Conference. Instead, they settled for an eighth seed and a first-round elimination.

It appeared Washington might miss the playoffs altogether when John Wall underwent knee surgery at the end of January. However, the Wizards managed a 15-12 record in his absence, sparking whispers that the team was better without him because of better ball movement.

Backcourt mate Bradley Beal, who has been beset by injury problems in the past, played all 82 games for the first time. He emerged as a team leader in Wall’s absence, averaging 22.6 points per game and posting career-best marks in rebounds (4.4 per game) and assists (4.5).

Washington has its All-Star backcourt locked up for the foreseeable future, but at a very expensive price. Wall will make nearly $19.2MM next season, then will start enjoying the benefits of a supermax extension that pays him $170MM over four years. Beal is owed nearly $81.3MM over the next three seasons.

With Otto Porter also getting a rich new extension last summer, the Wizards have extreme cap concerns over the next three years. They are already nearly $15MM over next season’s cap without counting possible player options for Jason Smith ($5.45MM) and Jodie Meeks ($3.45MM).

Operating so close to the luxury tax, the Wizards are limited in their ability to shake up the roster without a major trade. We’re asking our readers if they think it’s time to consider moving Wall or Beal as a potential cap solution. Please vote in our poll and give us your opinion on how Washington should handle the offseason.

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

John Wall Expected To Return Tonight

The Wizard are expected to have point guard John Wall return tonight against the Hornets after he missed the last two months due to arthroscopic left knee surgery, tweets Chris Miller of NBC Sports Washington.

Wall had been practicing with the Wizards and his return was considered imminent. Washington has won 15 of 27 games in Wall’s absence but head coach Scott Brooks recently said that having the five-time All-Star back would be a major boost.

“He gives us that edge,” Brooks explained. “When you have him on the floor, you get a lot of easy shots. John creates a lot of attention when he drives to the basket… I think [his teammates] have always appreciated it, but when you don’t have him around you definitely miss it.”

In 37 games before going under the knife, Wall averaged 19.4 PPG and 9.3 APG for the Wizards. With seven games remaining this season, Wall will likely on see action in a handful of them before the postseason. However, Wall will also try to steer the team in the right direction as the Wizards have dropped four of their past five games.

Injury Notes: Smart, Love, Ingram, Wall

Celtics guard Marcus Smart is making progress in rehabbing a torn ligament in his right thumb and hopes to be available for the second round of the playoffs, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.

A cast on his hand was recently replaced by a splint with an opening at the top that allows him to move his thumb, and he has been able to do some light exercises with the injured digit. Smart tore the ligament earlier this month and underwent surgery March 16. His original prognosis had him out six to eight weeks, which sets a potential return about the time of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

“Definitely right now, that’s what we’re shooting for,” he said. “The way it’s going now, we’re on the right path. Hopefully nothing happens where it gets delayed.”

There are more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Kevin Love has been placed in concussion protocol and will miss tonight’s game, the Cavaliers announced on their website. He suffered a front tooth sublexation last night and experienced concussion-like symptoms at halftime.
  • After missing nearly four weeks with a strained groin, Lakers forward Brandon Ingram expects to return tonight, tweets Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum Sports Net.
  • Coach Luke Walton says Lakers rookie Josh Hart has looked good in three-on-three games and may be cleared to play Friday, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • John Wall, who has been sidelined since having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in late January, may be able to return tomorrow, according to a tweet from the Wizards. Coach Scott Brooks said Wall will participate in the team’s shootaround and a decision will be based on how the knee responds. He is officially listed as questionable.
  • Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari is targeting Friday to return from a fractured right hand, relays Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. “I hope to play a few minutes against Portland [Friday],” Gallinari said in an interview with Italian outlet Sky Sport. “The hand is not completely healed, but we’ll see how I can help the team in the games left in the regular season. I will try to bite the bullet for the playoff race. The franchise asked me to grit my teeth and play. I will try to do that.”
  • After re-injuring his right ankle Monday, Celtics forward Marcus Morris will sit out tonight’s game, according to a tweet from the team. He will probably return Saturday, according to Himmelsbach (Twitter link).
  • Celtics coach Brad Stevens provided an another update on Gordon Hayward, saying he’s still limited to the Alter-G treadmill and hasn’t been cleared to run on the court (Twitter link). “There will be nothing more exciting for him than being able to get back out on the basketball court,” Stevens said (Twitter link).
  • Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman may be cleared to return to action after a hip flexor injury. He tweeted an image of himself accompanied by the word, “finally.”
  • Jazz center Tony Bradley has cleared concussion protocol, tweets Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News.

John Wall Participates In Practice; Return Expected Soon

John Wall passed an important test in his recovery from knee surgery as he was able to fully participate in today’s practice, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

This was the first full practice for Wall since he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in late January. He went through five-on-five scrimmages with teammates and was able to handle contact. He is now cleared of all restrictions, but the Wizards want him to practice a few more times before setting a date for his return. They have 10 regular season games remaining.

“John did everything, he did an entire practice, which was great,” head coach Scott Brooks said. “I thought he did a great job offensively and defensively.”

Brooks added that Wall tested the knee by aggressively attacking the basket and was moving around well in general. He is slightly lighter after losing some weight during his absence.

Washington managed a 14-10 record without Wall, but most of those wins came early. They have dropped seven of their last 11 games and have fallen into sixth place in the East.

Wall, who is averaging 19.4 points and 9.3 assists in 37 games, should provide a huge boost in the race for playoff positioning. His coach said just having him back at practice raises the overall performance of the team.

“He gives us that edge,” Brooks explained. “When you have him on the floor, you get a lot of easy shots. John creates a lot of attention when he drives to the basket… I think [his teammates] have always appreciated it, but when you don’t have him around you definitely miss it.”

Injury Notes: Hill, Wall, McCaw, Gordon, Anderson

After missing the Pelicans‘ first 69 games this season due to a torn left hamstring, Solomon Hill returned on Sunday and said he “felt way better than I thought I would,” per William Guillory of The New Orleans Times-Picayune. Despite the fact that he hadn’t appeared in a regular season game since last spring and only played eight minutes, Hill said he felt comfortable on the court.

“I kind of felt after a while that it was like my fifth game back,” Hill said. “It kind of just came and went. … When it was over, (I) was really thinking I can play more. It’s a good sign.”

As New Orleans works Hill back into its rotation, let’s round up a few more injury-related notes from around the NBA…

  • It’s not “etched in stone,” but John Wall could participate in five-on-five practice by the end of this week, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said today (Twitter link via Candace Buckner of The Washington Post). Wall, sidelined since January 25, remains on track to return from his knee injury in advance of the playoffs.
  • Patrick McCaw is set to return to action on Monday night against San Antonio, and Warriors head coach Steve Kerr doesn’t expect the second-year guard to just sit on the bench. Expect McCaw to play about 15 to 20 minutes, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “We need him,” Kerr said.
  • Having passed the concussion protocol, Aaron Gordon will be available to play for the Magic on Tuesday night vs. Toronto, the team announced today (via Twitter). Gordon, a restricted free agent this summer, last appeared in a game on March 7.
  • Ryan Anderson played in both of the Rockets‘ games over the weekend after missing the previous nine contests with hip and groin injuries. As Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes, Anderson struggled a little with his rhythm in his first game back, but said he felt “no pain.”

Injury Updates: Leonard, Hill, Williams, Ross, Wall

Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard will meet with coach Gregg Popovich on Tuesday to discuss his progress rehabbing from a quad injury, Michael C. Wright of ESPN reports. Leonard could return as early as Thursday if both parties feel he’s ready to play again. The team’s franchise player has been sidelined since January 13th with the lingering quad issue that has cost him all but nine games this season. 

In other injury updates from around the league:

  • Pelicans forward Solomon Hill could make his season debut as early as this weekend, William Guillory of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Hill has been sidelined by a torn hamstring suffered in late August.  “We’re so close to the finish line that we’re definitely not going to rush the situation now,” coach Alvin Gentry told Guillory. “I can see a situation where he might be able to play a few minutes here or there.” Hill is in the second year of a four-year, $48MM contract.
  • Suns reserve center Alan Williams could make his season debut on Tuesday, according to Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic. Williams underwent surgery in September to repair the meniscus in his right knee with a six-month timetable to return. He went through a full practice on Monday. Williams, whose three-year, $17MM contract is only guaranteed through this season, averaged 11.4 PPG and 9.1 RPG after the All-Star break last season.
  • Magic swingman Terrence Ross is questionable to return this season, according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. Ross has been sidelined since November 29th with a knee injury. A bone bruise has stalled Ross’ return, Robbins adds. “Some days it feels good, and then some days it kind of flares up,” Ross told Robbins. Ross has one season left on a contract that pays him $10.9MM annually.
  • Wizards point guard John Wall went through some non-contract drills Monday as he works his way back from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports relays. If medically cleared, Wall could practice in full for the first time on Friday, Hughes adds.