clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Wizards owe it to John Wall to pursue Paul George, even if it's unlikely they get him

Sprite Slam Dunk Contest 2014 Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

On Monday, before the inaugural NBA Awards ceremony, John Wall dropped a bomb. He lobbied for the Wizards to make a move to get Paul George in Washington in an interview with ESPN’s Marc Spears.

He said the Wizards were “one piece” away from contending on a higher level and needed a player who could go blow for blow with LeBron James at the head of the conference.

Wall working to lobby for more help on the wing is nothing new. He’s lobbied for more depth at the position over the last year. But this is the first time he’s ever pined for more help from another superstar. Wall straight up said what we’re all thinking: If you can get more All-Stars, get them.

Here’s more:

"We've been friends, and we've talked throughout the summer," Wall said. "He has to make a decision that is comfortable to him. But at the end of the day, you always have to get [elite players]. You have to go out swinging. You got to get a yes or a no."

In today’s NBA, just simply having a star-studded backcourt won’t cut it. There has to be more meat on the bone. Without it, you’re just not competing. And Wall understands that.

Let’s be real here — it’s highly unlikely that anything comes from this. The Wizards have shown interest in George already this offseason, but they just don’t have the cache to snag him from Indiana before a team like Boston does.

But where there’s a will, there’s a way. The Wizards have to at least make a call. Here’s why.

Paul George is a great player, and the Wizards need great players

At a very basic and barebones level, there’s this: George is an obvious and instant upgrade for the Wizards. Otto Porter had a career season last year and was the best three point shooter in the league for most of the season. But imagine what it would be like putting Paul George in that spot.

George is a better defender, a better shot creator and a better scorer than Porter is right now. Porter is a more than capable starter who probably deserves to have a higher usage than he does in Washington. But replacing him with George puts Washington’s offense in a completely different tier.

The Wizards’ biggest need this offseason is depth and bench improvement, but anytime you can get your hands on an All-Star, all other needs are trumped. If they can find a way to make a compelling offer to Indiana, they should do it. Point blank.

The Pacers have very little leverage right now

Everything in the NBA is set by market precedent. No, the Wizards don’t have very many assets in their grasp. Throughout the last seven years, they’ve shipped out young and cheap talent in favor of players who could produce for them immediately. That was a mistake then, and they’re paying for it now.

Don’t get it twisted — their situation is bad. But hear me out. Over the last five months, we’ve seen two All-Star caliber players traded for cents on the dollar. DeMarcus Cousins only scored the Kings Buddy Hield, some cap filler and a low lottery pick. Jimmy Butler’s services plus the 16th overall pick in the draft netter the Bulls the 7th overall pick, Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine coming off an ACL tear.

I hate using the Cousins trade as precedent for anything and I always will. But after the Butler deal, don’t we have to consider it? I’m not saying those teams won’t end up alright out of those deals, but they aren’t the typical asset-laden packages we’re used to seeing for All-Star players.

And, like Cousins, George has one year left on his deal. The Pacers’ leverage here dwindles as more time goes by. Some combination of Kelly Oubre, a couple of future first round picks, and a potential Porter sign and trade in a worse case scenario does not sound bad at all.

It should be noted that in any sign and trade involving Porter, the Wizards would only have about $12 million of his salary to use should they sign him to a max deal per the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement. They’d be forced to throw in some salary filler, and that could further compromise their depth.

He still may not commit to signing long-term

George’s dream, as far as we can tell, is to play with the Lakers. It was his childhood team and where his idol, Kobe Bryant, played ball.

But even if he doesn’t pledge to re-signing, the move would still be worth making. If George doesn’t outright commit to playing anywhere other than Los Angeles, that makes things a lot tougher for the Pacers.

Teams are skittish about rental trades, and rightfully so. His commitment to playing in Los Angeles would just drive his price down around the league even more. Which, in the short term, could benefit the Wizards.

A combination of George, Wall and Beal would likely put the Wizards in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cavaliers and would give them a legitimate shot at dethroning LeBron James. It isn’t a guarantee, but should they make it that far and push the Cavaliers in a tough series, that could be enough to make George stay.

And maybe it wouldn’t be. Maybe George is that hellbent on playing in the west. And that’s fine. But taking the gamble shows players that you’re willing to spend and take risks in order to win. And that could go a long way in making sure Washington is able to keep Wall around for the long haul.

Now, look. It’s unlikely any of this will ever come to fruition. The most likely scenario here is that the Wizards re-sign Porter, let Bojan Bogdanovic walk and try to improve their bench with some exceptions and smaller contracts down the line this summer.

Internal improvement is the best hope for this team right now and it isn’t close. But with that being said, there’s no doubt that they should be on the phone trying to figure out every which way they can bring Paul George to Washington.