Ted Leonsis: "We want to keep Wall for a long time"
Aside from the certainty that the Wizards won’t make the playoffs for the fifth year in a row, owner Ted Leonsis appears certain about this: He wants to extend point guard John Wall, re-sign Martell Webster and be active in free agency.
The Wizards (29-52) lost 95-92 at the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday, falling behind by as many as 21 points in the first quarter, but Leonsis gave his diagnosis of a season beset by bad fortune and injuries to key players in an interview with CSN Washington.
The Wizards began the season 4-28 while Wall sat out with a stress injury to his left knee.
“A key thing for us is try and keep Martell,” Leonsis said about the small forward who will become a free agent July 1, “and see what we’re going to do with John to keep him with the team for a long, long time. I think the fans would expect that to try to keep the nucleus of the team together and add around it.”
The Wizards finished the season without Nene (left foot/right knee), Trevor Ariza (left knee), Webster (abdominal strain), Bradley Beal (right fibula) and Emeka Okafor (right ankle). Only Wall stayed on the floor.
The Wizards were 15-7 with Nene, Wall and Beal in the lineup.
“It’s amazing what he adds to the team,” Leonsis said of Nene, “and bringing in someone like Ariza and Okafor there. That was really helpful to settle the team down.”
Okafor, who like Ariza has a player option and told CSN Washington on April 1 that he plans to return, was injured Monday when he only played 10 minutes in a loss at the Brooklyn Nets.
“We miss Okafor. He really is a dependable player, really, really good defensively, gets a lots of rebounds for us,” Leonsis said as he watched courtside. “And really is able to control the paint for us.”
Wall said after a 22-point win vs. the Phoenix Suns, when Webster scored a career-high 34 points on March 16, that he'd already told Leonsis that he wants Webster back. In his first year in Washington, Webster was among the top three three-point shooters until he was derailed by injury. Webster's leadership and locker room presence, however, caught everyone by surprise in his eighth season.
Webster earned $1.6 million this season.