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Does loss of Wall change expectations?


Does loss of Wall change expectations?

Entering his third year in the NBA, John Wall wanted to be bigger, stronger, faster and more consistent with his jump shot.

Its why he hired the services of Los Angeles trainer and shooting guru Rob McClanaghan, who worked extensively with NBA stars Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love.

I thought it was a great chance to try something different, Wall said Friday before revealing he will miss the first month of the Wizards 2012-13 season with a non-traumatic stress injury of his left knee.

Wall added 10 pounds over the summer, beefing up to 205 pounds, before he began feeling discomfort in his left knee near the end of August. A week later he underwent an MRI that, according to Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld, revealed some bursitis, or inflammation of the bursa sac, in Walls left knee.

When Wall's discomfort continued through his September workouts, the club sent him to orthopedic specialist Dr. David Altchek in New York on Thursday night and a second MRI revealed the early stages of traumatic stress in his left knee cap.

I didnt change up anything, Wall said of his summer workouts. This is something that happens when you work out really hard.

As part of his rehab Grunfeld said Wall will participate in non-impact strengthening by swimming, running in a pool and gradually working his way up to a treadmill.

Wall, 22, called it a minor setback and Grunfeld called it a bump in the road, but both made it very clear they do not want Walls injury to have a lasting impact on this season or his promising career.

I want to take my time and make sure I dont force myself to come back too soon, Wall said.

You have to look at the big picture and the big picture is that Johns going to be with us the majority of the season and help us get to where we want to go, Grunfeld said.

That would be a berth in the 2013 NBA playoffs. Wizards coach Randy Wittman was asked if those expectations are now altered with the clubs best player scheduled to miss at least the first 10 games of the season.

I dont think so, he said. With the changes we made were a deeper team. Obviously, were going to miss John. Theres nobody we can go out and sign or bring in here thats going to do the things Johns capable of doing.

But that doesnt mean other people wont have the opportunity to step up. Im still very positive about this season and the people we added.

Wall will continue to take part in team meetings and will be responsible for learning the new sets being implemented by Wittman and his coaching staff. And when he returns, Wittman said his expectations of the third-year guard will be no different than they are now.

The good thing about this is that we caught it when we did, Wittman said. Its not the best-case scenario, but we also have to look at this in a positive way.

I still expect a lot out of John and thats not going to change. Its just going to start a little bit later. Were lucky that we took the precautionary step to make sure there was nothing there. We thought maybe it was bursitis and were lucky we got it before there was a fracture or anything of that nature.

Wall said hes confident his teammates can carry the load for the first month of the season, when the Wizards play five of their first seven, and six of their first 10 games, on the road.

The new coaching staff we have and my teammates are going to hold it down and play the best they can, Wall said. Maybe some of the younger guys can help and have a good season while Im not there.

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John Wall knows the decision between loyalty and money is a tough one for Bryce Harper

John Wall knows the decision between loyalty and money is a tough one for Bryce Harper

In just a few months, Nationals star Bryce Harper could become one of the biggest free agents not just in baseball history, but sports history. He will decide whether to stay in Washington with the team that drafted him and oversaw his development as a young player, or to leave for another city.

Wizards guard John Wall has twice faced the prospect of free agency and twice has decided to sign contract extensions to stay in D.C. Though the salary structures of baseball and basketball are different, there are some parallels between the two. 

Wall has a unique perspective on the call Harper has to make and gave his opinion on the matter in a 1-on-1 interview on the latest episode of our Wizards Tipoff podcast.

"Well, it’s kind of tough. It depends on if you want to do it off of loyalty, or if you want to do it to make sure you make the most money you can make. That’s the toughest decision that you can have. I have the opportunity here where I have loyalty and I can also make the money, so that was a bonus and a plus for me in both situations," Wall said. 

Wall noted how as an NBA player he can have the best of both worlds. The league's collective bargaining agreement allows teams to pay players they drafted significantly more money.

That, however, has not stopped NBA stars from changing teams. Wall in many ways is an outlier as many superstars have left money on the table to depart their original teams. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Paul George have all done that, to name a few. Kawhi Leonard could be next.

Harper, though, may also be able to make more money elsewhere. The Dodgers, Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox or some other team could conceivably offer more money than the Nats and there are some cities like L.A. and New York that could open up more endorsement opportunities.

There's no question it pays to be the best player on the Yankees. Look at Derek Jeter and how his stardom was boosted by that distinction.

Loyalty is also going to come into play for Harper and the past few days have shown he is a sentimental person, as he has talked about all the people he has connected with over the years and how much the Washington community means to him.

Wall took all of those things into account when he decided to stay in D.C. and not look elsewhere via free agency or trades, which have become commonplace for All-Star players in the NBA.

"It was how much what the city means to me is the reason I wanted to stay and what I want to bring here is a championship, it’s what I promise and I hope I can do that," Wall said. "My dad’s from here. Just the way they welcomed me from the first day I came here. Sticking with me through the tough times, when we wasn’t winning early on and then we started to win. The city just embraced me and I embraced the city back. It feels like home and I wouldn’t want to be nowhere else."

Though the difference in money likely won't be as drastic, Harper will have to choose how much loyalty and the human connection he has with people in Washington matters in his free agency decision. Wall knows the feeling.

Hear Wall's full 1-on-1 interview on our latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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Wizards have talked to the Spurs about Kawhi Leonard, report says


Wizards have talked to the Spurs about Kawhi Leonard, report says

After already making significant changes to their roster, the Wizards may not be done this offseason, as they have been in talks with the San Antonio Spurs about a potential trade for superstar Kawhi Leonard, according to a new report by ESPN

Read this from Adrian Wojnarowski:

Still, the bidding war among Boston, Philadelphia and the Lakers never materialized. The Los Angeles Clippers, Denver, Phoenix, Portland, Toronto and Washington are among teams who've talked with San Antonio, league sources said.

The Wizards certainly make sense as a Leonard suitor. They are in the East, meaning the Spurs could trade Leonard to them and not have to worry about facing him as often. Plus, they have a solid group of tradeable assets and ones that seem to fit the Spurs model.

Otto Porter is a versatile, young player under team control who plays an unselfish style and would likely embrace playing in a small market. He also has a salary ($26M in 2018-19) that isn't far off from Leonard's ($21M in 2018-19), so the money could be easily matched.

The Wizards also have Tomas Satoransky and Kelly Oubre, Jr., two young and up-and-coming players. Plus, they have draft picks, though ones that are unlikely to convey as lottery selections.

The Spurs have reportedly been more interested in getting players that can help now rather than draft picks to rebuild. That makes sense, as they still won 47 games last year despite Leonard only playing in nine of them due to injury.

The question in any Wizards and Spurs talks would be whether they would want one of Washington's All-Stars in John Wall and Bradley Beal. It would be tough to imagine the Wizards parting with either guy for Leonard, who carries some risk not only because of his quadriceps injury but also because he can opt out of his contract and leave after next season.

Just because the Wizards have talked to the Spurs doesn't mean they are serious contenders for Leonard, but it does show they are serious about improving their roster this summer. If they got Leonard and didn't part with Wall and Beal, that would be some team.




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