Wizards building team with solid role players
The Wizards have taken care of most of their objectives this off-season, but the elephant in the room is John Wall’s inevitable extension.
President Ernie Grunfeld still hasn't begun discussing the matter with Wall’s agent, Dan Fegan, who currently is engaged in contract talks for other clients, namely Dwight Howard. Fegan was present when Howard sat down with the Los Angeles Lakers, who he played for last season, on Tuesday.
There’s a July 10 moratorium on trades and deals, though teams can agree to terms with players. None of the moves can officially be announced or acknowledged by teams. The reason is because the new salary cap has to be configured –- it is expected to rise slightly above last season’s $58.044 million. After this point, rookie scale contracts such as Wall’s as he enters his fourth season, can be negotiated for extension.
Grunfeld used the opening of free agency to swiftly secure Eric Maynor, Martell Webster and Garrett Temple.
The Wizards have until Oct. 30 to work out an extension with Wall, who was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2010. He qualifies for a four-year “max” contract, in addition to the final year of his rookie deal that will pay him $7.45 million, which would represent 25% of the team’s salary cap. The Wizards also would have the option of making him a designated player which would grant him a fifth year under collective bargaining rules. Only one designated player is allowed per team.
If a deal isn't reached before the regular season starts, the Wizards must cease talks with Wall and revisit after the season.
Owner Ted Leonsis told CSN on April 17 that his off-season goals were to re-sign Webster and lock up Wall for “a long, long time.” Wall missed the first 33 games of last season because of a stress injury to his left knee. When he returned, the Wizards played much better. When he was on the floor with Bradley Beal and Nene, the Wizards were 15-7.
They ended the season in a six-game losing streak as injuries to the roster took their toll. But Wall showed improvement offensively, particularly with his jump shot. He shot career highs of 44% from the field and averaged 18.5 points per game. He scored a career-high 47 points in a victory vs. the Memphis Grizzlies on March 25. He scored 33 points or more four times in the last 13 games of the season.
But with more pieces on the roster, including 2013 draft picks Otto Porter and Glen Rice, Wall figures not to have to score that much and improve on his 7.6 assists. He’s in position to have a breakout season and help the Wizards qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
An extension will get done, and as I wrote several months ago signs still point to Wall getting the max -- or something close to it. That Webster received the full mid-level exception for a four-year, $22 million contract with the first three years fully guaranteed should serve as a guideline for what to expect.
Like Webster, Wall has the full support of Leonsis, who is the one who cuts his paycheck. Like Webster, Wall has the full support of coach Randy Wittman. Like Webster, Wall is a good teammate and citizen, doesn't embarrass the organization and says the right things.
Do the math.