Suffice to say it’s been an interesting two weeks for John Wall. He’s undergone knee surgery, watched the team win five of their last six games, and sat idly by as commentators openly question whether or not the team is better off without him.
Unbelievable win tonight ! Great "team" victory!— Marcin Gortat (@MGortat) February 2, 2018
Bradley Beal has been adamant the team is better with Wall (he recently talked with Ben Standing about it on a recent episode of Basketball in the DMV) but still, the narrative is out there and it’s hard to avoid when the team is catching people’s attention.
Wall had largely been silent on things, other than a now-infamous reply to Gortat’s tweet last week which was quickly deleted. On Tuesday, he finally opened up about things during a round of interviews as part of a promotion he’s doing with Kumho Tires.
First, he talked joined The Jump, where he discussed why he thinks the team has been able to succeed in his absence:
It was funny to me at first, just to see some of the things that people were saying and certain type of comments. But I’ve seen these guys put in a lot of work every day, and we always say the motto is next man up no matter what. I think we moved the ball well early in the season, we just couldn’t make shots. And we couldn’t defend at all. I think now guys are stepping up and the first unit and second unit are playing very well.
When asked specifically about Gortat, who has come up in trade rumors this week, Wall said he’s been a “great teammate” and a “great professional” and that he makes his job a lot easier.
But then later, on SC6, he opened up more about his feelings on the tweet. First, he clarified he was not the one who deleted the tweet, saying he stands by what he said. Then, he went in on Gortat specifically:
It was more just shocking to hear from him, and understanding that he gets the most assists from me, and the most spoon-fed baskets ever.
“Well, my comment is that it’s clearly the whole drama that was stirred up from a few days ago, a week ago, whatever. It was definitely not even me or Brad or anybody on the team was trying to hit him with anything that’s going to make him pissed or that’s going to make him frustrated. And there wasn’t definitely any hit at him, basically.
“We talk about team win with 30 assists a game, everybody played for each other. We enjoyed the game. And basically I see that, you know, he felt different way. He felt it was a different way and he came back with that kind of a comment. So, now we got to ask each other questions, who’s attacking who?”
Clearly, there’s a lot of unresolved tension in the Wizards’ locker room at the moment, but keep in mind, the team has been through stuff like this before. Remember Wall and Beal’s “tendency to dislike each other”, or the drama after Wall publicly advocated for the team to go after Paul George last summer?
There’s a chance this could all blow over, but unlike those past kerfluffles, this comes right up against Thursday’s NBA Trade Deadline. Washington’s front office has to move quickly to assess the situation and determine if things can be resolved internally or if a move needs to be made.