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Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld on how John Wall's game will age and develop over the course of his contract

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Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld on how John Wall's game will age and develop over the course of his contract

Often times in the NBA long-term contracts are as much about paying a guy for the player he is someday going to be as they are paying what that player is worth at the moment. It's a futures game and front offices are tasked with projecting what players will become over the course of three, four and five years.

In John Wall, the Wizards have a firmly established star who turns 27 this week. He's a safe bet with four All-Star appearances already to his name.

That said, his recently signed four-year, $170 million extension will keep him in Washington through at least his Age 31 season. The final year of his deal, his Age 32 season, includes a player option.

In brokering this deal, the Wizards had to project how Wall's game will develop over the course of the next five or six years. That's a long time, but as team president Ernie Grunfeld explained in detail, they feel very comfortable about Wall's future.

"Thirty is still very young in the NBA nowadays. But we’ve seen John grow every single year. He’s improved every year he’s been in the league. The last four years he’s been an All-Star. This past year he was an elite-level player making the All-NBA team. He’s improved his shooting, he’s improved his knowledge of the game. The game has really slowed down for him. His first two or three years he was just up and down the floor trying to get to the basket and get layups. Now he reads the floor and he reads the situations and makes the right plays at the right times," Grunfeld said.

[RELATED: BROOKS WANTS WIZARDS TO EMBRACE EXPECTATIONS]

"John is one of the rare players, I can’t even think of two or three others besides maybe LeBron [James], who makes players around him better. That’s very hard to find. John is a true pass-first point guard. The way the league is changing now, the point guard position is obvously the most important position. It’s like quarterbacks in football. It’s really more scoring point guards who can also get assists and get their teammates involved. I think John’s primary goal is to get that assist, to look to help a teammate. And then when he needs to score, he can also score, as he’s shown."

Grunfeld drafted Wall in 2010 with the first overall pick and has seen him mature on and off the court. This past season was his best, as he put up career-highs of 23.1 points, 10.7 assists, 2.0 steals and a 45.1 field goal percentage. Grunfeld insists there is another level or two Wall can reach and the Wizards are confident he will get there.

"He’s improved his three-point shooting. I think he was working on it very hard to continue to improve it. [Coach Scott Brooks] has said now he’s going to be working on his defense a little bit also and see if he can improve in that area. At his age, he hasn’t reached his peak yet," Grunfeld said. "That’s the good situation about our team right now. Now we have stability, we have continuity with three very young players who are not even close to reaching their prime yet."

Grunfeld was referring, of course, to Bradley Beal and Otto Porter, two 24-year-olds who signed contract extensions of their own in the past 13 months. The Wizards are banking on their core three to continue growing together. They have done their best to project the future and like what they see.

[RELATED: CAN WALL FOLLOW THROUGH ON KOBE'S CHALLENGE?]

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Wizards ride huge second half to break through, beat Pistons

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Wizards ride huge second half to break through, beat Pistons

The Washington Wizards beat the Detroit Pistons 122-112 on Friday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Changes were subtle: Many were surprised when head coach Scott Brooks decided to trot out the usual starting lineup after all the talk about making changes following their blowout loss to the Hornets on Wednesday, but that didn't mean Brooks was going to keep everything the same. He did adjust his rotation, it just took him a few minutes.

Center Marcin Gortat played four minutes in the first quarter before sitting the rest of the first half. After Markieff Morris began the game cold and missed his first three threes, Scott pulled him and got creative with his lineups.

Early in the second quarter we saw Tomas Satoransky, Jodie Meeks, Kelly Oubre, Otto Porter and Mike Scott in a super small-ball set... and it worked. After the Wizards went down by 15 points, that group exploded back by causing turnovers left and right and took the lead. Even Meeks, who has struggled all season, popped off for six points in his first five minutes.

Whether it was those moves or not, the Wizards came out in the third quarter a different team. They outscored the Pistons 45-28 in the frame and shot 16-for-21.

After going scoreless in the first half, John Wall exploded for 10 points in the third quarter and finished with 16 points and 11 assists for the game. Bradley Beal had 13 points in the third and Gortat had eight. Beal had 26 points for the game and Gortat had 13 points and nine rebounds.

The big third quarter propelled the Wizards to the win. They snapped a two-game slump and improved to 26-20 on the season.

PODCAST: SHOULD THE WIZARDS MAKE A TRADE OR BENCH A STARTER?

Otto came to play: Brooks ripped into the Wizards following their loss on Wednesday and early on it seemed like most of the players didn't get the message. Porter was a major exception because he came out on fire.

Porter had 11 points, six rebounds and three steals by halftime. He was 3-of-4 from three and was all over the place on both ends of the court.

Porter ended up with 16 points. It was a great sign for the five-year pro, who hadn't reached double figures in six of his previous eight games. If Porter gets going offensively, the Wizards should be in good shape moving forward.

Oubre, too: Oubre gets criticism from time to time about his mistakes on the court, when he gambles on defense or doesn't make the extra pass on offense. But what is never questioned is his effort, so it's no surprise he showed up when Brooks was looking for more energy from his team.

Oubre lit a spark with 11 points in the first half on 4-for-7 from the field in just under 16 minutes. He ended up with a career-high 26 points for the game. He shot 9-for-14 from the field and 5-for-9 from three. He also added five rebounds.

Oubre has been one of the Wizards' most consistent players recently. He has reached double figures in seven straight games and is averaging 16.3 points per game during that stretch.

Oubre has 15 points or more in four straight games, a career-high. This season he has 13 such games compared to seven in his previous two seasons combined. 

If the Wizards continue to struggle in the big picture, Oubre will be knocking on the door to be inserted into the starting lineup. His improvement is also giving the Wizards a lot of options as they approach the trade deadline because if they want to move a starter, he could step right in.

Stocking up: The Wizards beat the Pistons for the third time this season, meaning they took the season series. That could come in handy if the Wizards need a playoff tiebreaker over the Pistons at the end of the season.

Up next: The Wizards are off through the weekend. Their next game is on Monday night at the Dallas Mavericks. Tipoff is at 8:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

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2018 NBA trade deadline: Hornets are shopping All-Star guard Kemba Walker, report says

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2018 NBA trade deadline: Hornets are shopping All-Star guard Kemba Walker, report says

The Charlotte Hornets are attempting a firesale of sorts with the 2018 NBA trade deadline approaching and have made All-Star point guard Kemba Walker available in talks, according to a report by ESPN.

Walker, 27, is having one of his best seasons with averages of 21.7 points, 5.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He is a prolific scorer and is on a team-friendly contract of $12 million per year through next season.

Though many teams have good point guards these days, there should be a strong market for Walker. Teams like the Sixers, Pistons, Clippers, Knicks and Nuggets would seem to be great fits. 

PODCAST: SHOULD THE WIZARDS MAKE A TRADE OR BENCH A STARTER?

The Pistons stand out in particular. They are currently ninth in the East and their primary point guard Reggie Jackson is hurt. Even when he does play, they need offense and that's what Walker provides.

The Sixers have Markelle Fultz working his way back from a shoulder injury, but have the assets to trade for Walker and could use some help to make a playoff push. The Knicks could use more talent around Kristaps Porzingis and Walker would certainly help.

There are still about three weeks until the Feb. 8 trade deadline and a lot can change before then. But it appears there is another big name readily available on the market.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS