It wouldn’t be an NBA offseason without #SoWizards stuff happening. The NBA Draft on Wednesday left Wizards fans with mixed feelings, and Friday evening was officially NBA Free Agency. But the #SoWizards drama began well before what erupted Friday night.
It started when a video of John Wall went viral showing the point guard throwing up “gang signs” at a party in New York. This wasn’t the first time Wall had done it, but for some reason this time triggered a stronger response. Wall apologized for his actions.
First and foremost I want to apologize to my family, my teammates and all of those that have always supported me. I made a mistake, something I regret. I will continue to work hard to be better on the court and more importantly off the court.— John Wall (@JohnWall) September 13, 2020
Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard voiced his concern on Zach Lowe’s ESPN podcast, the Lowe Post, which was published before the draft.
“It’s certainly very disappointing to see something like that, knowing the persona and character of John Wall,” Sheppard said. “It’s a difficult conversation. You can’t get framed if you aren’t in the picture. We can say that’s not who you are but if you’re in that photo, it goes around the world before you have a chance to explain.”
That seemed to be possibly strike one with Wall.
The second strike came when Sheppard made it known the Wizards are now Bradley Beal’s team. How did this come about? Well for one Wall hasn’t played in two years. In December 2018, he sustained a left heel injury, and in January 2019 he slipped in his home and ruptured the Achilles tendon.
Since then, Beal had taken over as the team’s leader. And in turn, it truly became Beal’s team, especially after last season when he averaged 30.5 points per game, second only to James Harden.
The atmosphere surely shifted as Sheppard elaborated more on what he meant by the Wizards building around Beal and why it would simply be “unfair” to keep the reins under Wall.
“When I say we’re building around Beal, John’s been away for two years, it’d be unfair to say ‘Hey this is John’s team.’ Bradley’s put in the work, he’s been available. John didn’t ask to be injured but the NBA marches on,” Sheppard said. “Nothing marginalizes a player like an injury. I know what John can do, I know what he’s capable of. I feel when he comes back he’ll be a huge impact player for us, Scotty Brooks has already said he’s the No. 1 pick in this draft for us. But with Bradley, he’s such a dynamic scorer, he’s really a two-way player he’s a fantastic defender when he doesn’t have to carry the load for 48 minutes and shoot every shot and guard the other team’s very best player.”
The final strike came when the story emerged that the Wizards were discussing a trade with the Houston Rockets that would send Wall to Texas for Russell Westbrook. Of course there would be other assets involved, but the simple fact was that there were talks about Wall that didn’t inlcude Wall. He had no clue he would even be considered a trade piece.
With all that stacking up, it’s not surprising he now wants out of D.C.
Washington has already dealt with a bad GM in Ernie Grunfeld, and now Sheppard has rubbed Wall the wrong way to the point where he wants to be traded. The Wizards were already in a deep hole and weren’t exactly contenders anyway, but fans who’ve waited two years for Wall’s return may not get to see him in a Wizards uniform again.
If that’s the case, fingers will point to Sheppard, who seems to have bit off more than he can chew and will be responsible for the break up of one of the best backcourts in the NBA.