John Wall has always been an intense competitor since he came into the league. He's never been one to back down from a challenge and he's always been candid when speaking with the media. So Michael Lee was sure to get some pretty good soundbites from him over a four day stretch with three games in three nights.
Before continuing to read here, you should definitely check out the piece yourself if you already have not. Most things from the Vertical are usually well-sourced and worth the read -- this piece is no different. Wall was, per usual, very candid and clear on his thoughts on this season and the team's overall ups-and-downs.
There were a few things that I thought were pretty eye-opening. Not because they were not true, but because they are things you do not normally hear players talk about. First, he openly admits that Kevin Durant is the team's number one priority this offseason and has been for quite a while. But Wall also mentions how that is probably affecting the team this year because of the lack of long-term security for so many players.
"I know what our goal is, to try to go after Kevin, which is not a bad situation. But my ultimate goal is this year. I ain’t trying to waste a season," Wall recently told The Vertical.
Translation: Our priorities aren't straight right now.
That's really about as honest as you can get about the Wizards' situation and how management has treated this season as a bridge into the offseason and free agency.
Wizards management really started making moves to attract Kevin Durant to the Wizards three years ago and have been handicapping themselves ever since, which is something Wall noted here when talking about the Markieff Morris trade.
"I think this is the piece that helps us get over the hump," Wall told The Vertical. "I don’t think we were throwing [the season] away but it kind of felt that way because we had nine guys on one-year contracts. We definitely want to win, we don’t want nothing to drop."
Players on one year deals who know they are not going to be back with the team the next year if their ultimate goal is achieved are not going to play as hard as other players on contract years. Certainly they want long term deals, but they are not going to worry about team. And you can only have so many players, who are key contributors, on these same one year deals.
Wall is happy with the Morris deal, but from those comments you can tell he is a bit bothered by how management has approached this season. This is not the first time he has mentioned that either. Even Kevin Durant, himself, said the team and fans need to appreciate what they have in their young, core group of guys right now.
From these comments, I think it is safe to say that Wall is bothered by the prospect of "wasting" a season of his career. And no one can really blame him for that. Later on in the piece, he complained about his lack of national popularity despite his production, character and stature as a top player who was once a number one pick.
It begs the question, if Wall could leave the Wizards right now, would he? I think there's a strong possibility that he would. And I can't really blame him, because management is using a strategy that has not worked for different organizations over time. It has to be frustrating that he is 26-years-old while entering his prime and the Wizards find themselves below .500 this late in the season.
Luckily, the Wizards have three more years under contract with Wall to make up for this season, even if it isn't a lost one just yet. Hopefully, they do themselves some good.