On Tuesday afternoon, the Wizards announced that John Wall will miss 11 to 15 months due to a left Achilles tendon tear he suffered last week. The tear comes just weeks after he had surgery on his left heel that forced him to miss the remainder of the 2018-19 NBA season. But with this setback, Wall could even miss the entire 2019-20 NBA season.
More from Wall's surgeon. While the initial statement said a 12 month recovery time, the range is 11-15 months. Therefore missing the entire 2019-20 season in play. #Wizards— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) February 5, 2019
This is a scary prospect. Wall’s supermax contract is set to start next season, when he is set to earn $37.8 million in that season alone. And what’s even worse is that Wall will probably never be able to rely on his trademark athleticism like he has in the past. Meanwhile, the Wizards are 21-30 and on the outside looking in when it comes to their dwindling playoff hopes.
When the Wizards were in the middle of a 3-9 start to their season last fall, I wrote about the grim prospects of having to rebuild again in a post-John Wall-as-a-star Era. If and when they do, Washington is probably going to have to keep Wall for much of, if not all of the four years when that contract is in place.
Unfortunately, the Wizards look like they have to take that path now, even if Wall hasn’t been playing since last December. Or am I just being overly pessimistic?
Does Wall’s injury change what the Wizards do between now and Thursday?
Marcus: It should, but I have my doubts that it will. This year they could stay pat and nothing would change from their plans, but next year, you have $37 million committed to a player that won’t play at minimum most of the season. The prudent thing to do is to look beyond this year and think about how you will build a roster without your star point guard with limited funds. In other words, they should seriously consider getting more draft capital if for nothing else to at least get some young cheap talent to fill out the roster with.
Albert: I agree. The Wizards would probably be making a knee-jerk reaction to they make a drastic change by trading someone like Otto Porter or Bradley Beal. They’ve played without Wall for a month this season so it’s not like this news changes things in the short term in and of itself. The news of Wall’s Achilles injury affects how they want to approach their strategy next season and beyond though.
If the Wizards stay the course, will Otto Porter or Bradley Beal be traded within the next 12 months?
Marcus: I think they will probably wait until the summer time to consider a trade. The Wizards will have a better idea of where Wall will be in his recovery by this time next year.
Albert: They should consider doing so. The Wizards need all the salary cap relief they can get.
Can the Wizards keep Tomas Satoransky for next season? Is he Washington’s long term solution at point guard?
L.W.: Barring a bigger trade involving Beal or Porter, Satoransky is the best starting point guard the Wizards can hope for, partly because he’s coming up on restricted free agency. Keeping him in D.C. is more important now than it was before. He’s a flawed player, but the alternative is probably a series of Ramon Sessions or Ty Lawson type players and 42 minutes a game for Bradley Beal.
Marcus: Sato’s price just went up. If a team with cap space really wants him, they can overpay him and that would put the Wizards in a pickle knowing they will need to fill another roster spot without Wall being available. He isn’t the long term solution, but he could be a nice stop gap until the team figures out what they will do with Wall.
Albert: I think the Wizards can keep Satoransky next year since all they will have to do is match any offer sheet he signs with another team. But if the Wizards move on from Ernie Grunfeld as their President of Basketball Operations, all bets are off. Who knows what direction the team will move in if that happened?
How effective will Wall be once he returns?
Marcus: An Achilles injury is devastating to a basketball player. It is perhaps one of the worst injuries a player can get, but he can take hope in seeing how his college teammate DeMarcus Cousins is playing now after recovering from a similar injury. I think if Wall wants to prolong his career he will absolutely have to change his game by becoming a better shooter and more crafty off the ball. Otherwise his career will face a steep decline.
L.W.: Historically, it seems like it takes almost an extra season for players to look “normal” again after an Achilles tear, for whatever his new normal is. Plus Wall is getting to the age where athletic decline is inevitable. I don’t think we can expect Wall to be very effective when he comes back (at the end of the 2019-20 season or even at the beginning of the 20-21 season).
After that, it depends on how Wall grows and adjusts his game. But in any case, he’s unlikely to get close to his previous production.