John Wall’s season was already over last February when he slipped and ruptured his Achilles tendon, but the injury caused major shock waves, leading to the trade of Otto Porter Jr. and many questions about what the intermediate-term future looked like for the Wizards.
The big question: Will John Wall even play this year?
He might, but I wouldn’t count on it. Coach Scott Brooks said on Media Day that there was a “good chance” Wall would miss most or all of the season. And there is no reason for the Wizards, who are almost certainly in a rebuild year anyway, to be anything other that incredibly cautious with their $170 million dollar man.
If Wall does play, don’t expect him to look like his old self — or his future self, for that matter. After an Achilles rupture, it’s not unusual for players to take months (or even a year) to reach whatever their new ceiling is. If Wall does make it on to the floor in 2019-20, we should be ready to cheer him on without expectations.
Will the Wizards trade Wall?
It’s possible, but doubtful. On the one hand, trading Wall (and Beal) would give the Wizards a fresh start and An injured, 29-year-old Wall set to make over $40 million dollars a year through his 32-year-old season will need to be packaged with a big asset to move, and it’s hard to see how that benefits a Wizards rebuild at the moment.
They will need all the picks and young talent they can get to position themselves to contend in the future. While Wall’s cap hit hurts, it’s not worth giving up an asset when you’re this far from contention anyway. If the Wizards and Wall do part ways, it will likely be a couple years down the road, when his contract is a shorter term commitment for hypothetical trade partners and the Wizards have a new core of young players they want to construct a team around.
What we should expect from Wall this year: Leadership and reflection
The future of the Wizards and the future of John Wall are likely to remain intertwined, at least for a few more years. And even if he doesn’t play at all this season, he’ll still be a core part of the team as a vocal leader and mentor to the Wizards’ young players.
Hopefully a long rehab will also give Wall an opportunity to reflect on his game, and how it can grow and adapt as he loses his explosiveness due to injury and age. He will probably not be able to carry a team like we would typically expect from a “super max” player. But Wall has an extraordinary ability to read the floor, and he’s one of the best passers in the NBA.
He will have the ability to contribute to winning basketball for years to come, but his game will need to change to exploit his strengths and minimize his weaknesses. A successful Wall-run offense in 2021 will probably not look like a successful Wall-run offense in 2016.
We don’t know what the future looks like for a John Wall-led Wizards squad. We don’t know what Wall will look like when he gets back on the floor, nor do we know what team he’ll have around him at that point. But Wall has always been an exemplary community member, and there is no reason to expect that to change. Rally around your point guard, Wizards fans, even if you don’t get to see any chase down blocks or no-look passes from him this year.