Washington Wizards guard John Wall becomes a restricted free agent next summer. Given the Wizards' three straight losing seasons since drafting Wall, what is the likelihood of the speedy point guard defecting to another team?
Washington has been a lottery team every year since drafting Wall first overall in the 2010 NBA draft. The team hasn't had a winning record or playoff appearance since the 2007-09 season. With the Wizards, the former Kentucky standout has lost more games than he has in his entire life.
The team saw improvement last year, but injuries derailed it from any chance at the postseason. Wall missed the first 33 games of the season because of a stress injury to his left knee. When he did return, he played the best basketball of his pro career — 20.7 points, 4.5 boards, 7.8 assists and 1.5 steals after the All-Star break.
His improved jumper boosted his shooting to 44 percent and, if it remains consistent, will disallow for teams to continue simply sitting back and playing off him. His blazing speed to the basket, coupled with (hopefully) a newfound ability to pull up and hit the jumper, will make him nearly impossible to guard.
Wall has already alluded that he wants a max contract from the team, and the Wizards have already begun talking with Wall's agent, CSN Washington reported. But, as big-name players depart teams in free agency, Wizards fans should be concerned that the team's losing seasons may send Wall fleeing to another team.
Fortunately, an interview on Thursday with HoopsWorld suggested Wall is happy with the progress the organization is making.
"I love the way my organization — the GM, owner, president, coaching staff, all of those guys upstairs — have done a great job building the team," Wall said. "My job is just to go out there, play on the court, help the team win and make the city fall in love with us again. That's my job."
Wall also believes he can win with the Wizards.
"I think we can be a good team and I think we can make the playoffs," Wall said. "We just have to be healthy. That's the main thing for us. We've got to be healthy and we've got to get off to a good start. We don't want to start off behind. We need to come in healthy and have everyone working to get better."
After getting rid of the final remnants of the Gilbert Arenas era, the locker room is now Wall's. The 22-year-old is ready to step forward as the team's leader. He's already setting the tone for this season by attending the Wizard's Summer League games in Las Vegas and participating in the team's workouts.
Washington has until Oct. 30 to reach an agreement with Wall. If a new contract isn't agreed upon by then, the two sides will have to wait until after the 2013-14 regular season to resume talks.
It's uncertain how much the Wizards are willing to pay, but it'd be foolish not to sign Wall to a max deal.
Watch Wall's full interview here.
*Stats via Rotoworld.