Now that the Wizards are more or less done with their moves in free agency this summer, the only question left is whether or not John Wall will sign the four-year, $170 million supermax extension the Wizards offered him earlier this summer.
At the same time reports were coming out about the team offering Wall big money, he openly talked about trying to recruit Paul George to Washington, which also just so happened to be going down as Otto Porter prepared for free agency. Coming out so vocally about adding another star naturally led some to wonder if Wall’s decision was contingent on the Wizards acquiring George or replacing Porter, but Wall shot that idea down during an interview session in Las Vegas earlier in the week:
“It’s what people are going to say about it. I love Otto as a teammate, but at the end of the day if you can make your team better, you can always do that. If people take it the wrong way, then so be it.”
“I’m just chillin’. Just trying to figure out to negotiate it and manipulate it the way you want it to be. Everybody know where I want to play and where I want to be. Everybody took it the wrong way [when it was reported] I wanted to wait. It’s a big decision. I love D.C.
So what exactly was Wall talking about with trying to “negotiate and manipulate” things? The Wizards are already offering him all the money they can possibly give him. What else could he want?
It’s about potential money he could be leaving on the table by signing this summer instead of next summer, according to ESPN’s Mike Wise.
He’s deciding between taking that, or gambling one year and trying to become All-NBA again which would kick in another incentive, and another $40-50 million raise if he gambled this one year, and wasn’t hurt and made All-NBA again.
He’s waiting on it, not because he’s dissatisfied with the Wizards - I’m told, from inside his camp. He’s waiting on it because it’s such a crucial decision about his life and career. I don’t expect anything to happen until mid-August at the earliest, probably more like September.
The gamble is tied into how the new Designated Veteran Extension is constructed. It’s designed to allow players who meet the criteria to lock in a six-year deal. Wall can only add four more years to his deal through the designated veteran extension since he still has two left on his current one. If he waits and qualifies again next summer, then he could add an extra year and another $40-$50 million to his extension, depending on what the salary cap is next season. That extra year could wind up paying out a lot more than he’d make if he just took the extension now and got back out on the free agent market at age 32.
On the flip side, there’s no guarantee he makes All-NBA next season, even if he plays at an All-NBA level. All it takes is an injury, or someone having a surprising year that captures people’s attention, and he could be frozen out. And don’t forget, the same media that gave Isaiah Thomas one vote for an All-Defensive this season votes on All-NBA teams. Anything could happen.
If Wall doesn’t make All-NBA next season, it could get tough for both him and the Wizards. Wall would miss out on a big payday, and the Wizards would have no way to sign him to a long-term deal before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2019. It would bring him and the team a lot of unwanted attention as people ponder Wall’s future in Washington in his free agent year.
If it came to that, the Wizards would still have some advantages against the rest of the field in free agency. They would be the only team who can offer him a five-year deal and the only one who could offer 30 percent of the cap with 8 percent raises. That advantage was enough for the Clippers to keep Blake Griffin this summer, but it wasn’t enough for the Jazz to keep Gordon Hayward or for the Pacers to keep Paul George.
It’s also worth noting if he makes All-NBA in 2019, they could offer him a Designated Veteran Contract for five years worth up to 35 percent of the cap in free agency, similar to the one Stephen Curry signed this summer. In other words, if he missed out on All-NBA next season, he could still more get that money back if he made All-NBA the following season and stayed in Washington. But again, making an All-NBA team is never a sure thing.
Wall is facing a gamble with both options on the table this summer. Either choice could cost him millions of dollars, depending on what happens in the future. But one thing is clear: With all due respect to the chatter about Otto Porter’s max deal and the team’s other free agent signings, Wall’s decision will play a much bigger role in the future of the franchise than anything else that’s happened this summer. He’s earned the right to take as long as he needs to make the decision that’s best for him.