Wizards should free John Wall

John Wall is entering his seventh season with the Washington Wizards but it might be time to start considering a change of scenery for him. In his six seasons with the Wizards they have made the playoffs twice but took a serious step back last season. The team is beginning to flounder and is going nowhere fast. They made a change on the bench replacing Randy Wittman with Scott Brooks. Wall is in a similar position to Chris Paul before he was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. The time has come for Wall to be paired up with a superstar.

When Paul was with the New Orleans Hornets, he consistently carried his team to the playoffs despite never having great talent built around him. This led to him demanding a trade that brought him to the Clippers; coincidently it was after his sixth season with the Hornets. Wall is in a similar spot now. The front office had a pipe dream that they would be able to lure Kevin Durant home but as their season exploded like a pipe bomb it was clear they were not in the running for his services.

For two years in a row the Wizards held the third pick in the draft but might have whiffed on those picks. In 2013 the Wizards drafted Otto Porter third overall who has yet to reach his full potential a year after drafting Bradley Beal over players like Damian Lillard, Andre Drummond, and Harrison Barnes. Beal has struggled with injuries the last two seasons but despite that the Wizards signed him to a five year, $130 million dollar deal. Just recently Beal and Wall acknowledge tension between the two of them. Wall said “I think a lot of times we have a tendency to dislike each other on the court”. Chemistry issues popping up before training camp is a troubling sign for the Wizards.

There is no real rush for the Wizards to trade Wall; he is under contract for three more seasons at a salary cap friendly number. The threat of him leaving is not there so they can try to improve the team in other ways. The problem is, he is their only real asset. Beal just signed a massive contract but appearing in only 55 games last season and 63 the season before there is not a large market for him. The haul the Wizards can receive for Wall could be a king’s ransom. The Boston Celtics could offer a package built around the Brooklyn Nets’ draft picks, Amir Johnson, and Isaiah Thomas. A trade like that could set them up for quick rebuild and open some cap space for next summer.

The team that would make the most sense for Wall would be the New Orleans Pelicans. A Wall-Anthony Davis pairing could bring the excitement to the Bayou that has not been there since Paul left for Hollywood. Davis is another star that has yet to play with the supporting cast that he deserves. Pairing the two former Kentucky Wildcats would be enough to get the Pelicans back into the playoff picture in the West. It is unlikely to happen should the Wizards even entrain trading Wall. The Pelicans just don’t have the assets to put together a package to make this move.

The Wizards have mismanaged the Wall era, and they should look to pivot before Wall’s value dwindles. Quietly putting Wall on the market now would put them in a position of power at the negotiating table and allow them to demand large returns. If managed properly, and that is a big IF with Ernie Grunfeld making the decisions, they can turn those assets into a great product on the court. It is unlikely their front office would entertain trading Wall but one thing is clear, their backcourt is not working well together. Things might turn around next season for the Wizards with Brooks at the helm, but if they are struggling by the trade deadline, they would be smart to entertain offers and free John Wall.

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