LAS VEGAS -- All along the Wizards had a Plan B for losing Paul Pierce. No, it's not Jared Dudley, Gary Neal or Alan Anderson, players they acquired after his departure in free agency to the Los Angeles Clippers. It's their $80 million point guard, John Wall.
"It's all on me now. Going into my sixth year, having three great veterans in Trevor Ariza, Al Harrington and definitely Paul Pierce, those guys taught me how to be a leader the best way you can. Now I have to go from Day 1 and do what those guys did in the past and lead my team," said Wall, who was in attendance during the Wizards' summer league game Tuesday vs. the Dallas Mavericks."
The Wizards came within a left wrist injury that kept Wall out for three games from the Eastern Conference finals. Still, he averaged a double-double in Games 5 and 6 to the Atlanta Hawks, who were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the next round.
Wall is coming off his second consecutive All-Star appearance, and he recently began working out again now that his the multiple non-displaced fractures in his wrist and hand have healed.
He expected Pierce to leave, and really likes the depth they've added with so many shooters to help diversify their sometimes stagnant offense. Bradley Beal missed 19 games with injury and Martell Webster missed more than half the season because of back surgery and never was close to being himself.
"Without having Martell last year we didn't have a backup two behind Brad. We went out and got Rasual Butler to help out a big part," Wall said. "Then you have a guy in Gary Neal who can make shots, help other guys in the second unit. Our second unit is probably going to be the deepest we've ever had."
Still, Wall is haunted by the Hawks beating them in six games. Had he been healthy, he was certain the outcome would've been different.
"It was terrible, especially after the Hawks got swept," Wall said. "Any other series I was cool (watching). Seeing a team that we could've beat, should've beat, that was frustrating."