Washington Wizards: Should John Wall Be Tired Of Waiting?

Nov 16, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) prior to game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 16, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) prior to game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

With the Washington Wizards off to a slow start to the season yet again, should star point guard John Wall be growing tired of waiting?

When the Washington Wizards fell 4-2 to the Indiana Pacers in a hard-fought Eastern Conference semifinals series back in 2014, a sustained run of success seemed just around the corner for the long-suffering franchise that was now revitalized under the talents of a young John Wall.

A year later, when the Wizards were matched up with an Atlanta Hawks team who seemed visibly weary from their 60-win regular season heroics, a 2-1 lead early in the series seemed to show a team ready to take the next step.

The fact that the Hawks won the next three games to advance was a bitter blow at the time, but one that surely would be little more than a bump in the road in the long-term.

Yet, a .500 season last year would see the Wizards miss the playoffs, placing real importance on a return to form this year. All of a sudden a franchise that was once the envy of many around the league due to the quality of their young stars is starting to see their window for success shrink.

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Of course, there’s still time for the Wizards to get things right, but the reality is they’re a team who’ve fallen very far behind their original plan for development.

Whether blame for the way the team’s development has stalled comes down to poor coaching, injury issues, departing veterans or the regression of some of those who have stayed isn’t particularly relevant any more. Now, the onus has to be on the Wizards to figure things out sooner rather than later or face the prospect of starting all over again.

The player on which that really hinges is John Wall. Now at 26 years old, if not already in his prime, the former Kentucky Wildcat is likely quickly approaching that point. As the player who has been his team’s most consistent performer through the good and the bad of recent seasons, it would be understandable if the prospect of mediocrity or continuing the wait for success was starting to grate on Wall’s nerves.

That sense of impatience may have been what led to Wall acknowledging that he and the oft-injured Bradley Beal have a “tendency to dislike each other on the court.” With a new voice in charge of the locker room in Scott Brooks, there was certainly a hope that the Wizards were set to change for the better. Having only started the year with a record of 5-9, you have to wonder what Wall is thinking now, though.

On a recent episode of his Lowe Post podcast with ESPN Insider Marc Stein, Zach Lowe mentioned the kind of decisions that the Wizards may be confronted with if their season continues to slip away.

"“If things really go south there, I do think that Wall becomes one of the more interesting trade chips in the league. Like you said, there’s no other move for them to do…it reminds me a little of the [DeMarcus] Cousins thing in Sacramento, where it’s like, you trade Cousins, you get a bounty of stuff in return, but you’re literally starting from ground zero, because of all the picks you traded and all the picks you whiffed on.”"

Of course, Lowe is right. For teams like the Wizards and Kings, trading their stars for what looks like a colossal haul still wouldn’t necessarily guarantee a path to success in a rebuild, in a large part due to the careless way in which they’ve managed assets up until this point.

Although the Wizards have held on to their first round picks for the coming seasons, their second round picks are owed to other teams for 2019, 2020 and 2021. Perhaps a bigger issue for the Wizards has been their failure to hit on a number of notable picks in the time since Wall was drafted in 2010.

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Names like Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton, and Kelly Oubre jump out as potential missed opportunities with first round selections. Picks traded for the likes of Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris can also be questioned. Even the likes of Beal and Otto Porter, face their own question marks in spite of their talent, as health and inconsistency have been issues in their careers to date.

While that kind of draft mismanagement would make it tougher for the Wizards to imagine trading Wall and building a successful team again in the near future, it could also be the driving force in pushing their best player away from them.

Even if trades never factor into the discussion and Wall sees out his contract in Washington until the end of the 2018-19 season, the question for the Wizards’ front office has to be where can their team be realistically at that point?

If, by then, the Wizards aren’t a contender that could perennially be locked in for home-court advantage in the East, there’d be very little reason for Wall to stay beyond his current deal.

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In short, assessing his team’s situation from their current standing, it would be hard to see how Wall could be anything other than deeply unsatisfied. The onus now lies with the franchise to make the necessary progress to retain their star player, and if they can’t, there may be no other choice than to explore alternative options sooner rather than later.