As John Wall's career is in transition, so is the franchise he plays for. The Washington Wizards are in the midst of searching for a new general manager, one to replace Ernie Grunfeld as the team's architect.
Wall is just two months into his recovery from a ruptured left Achilles tendon. He is likely to be out until at least February 2020 and could miss all of the 2019-20 season.
But whomever the Wizards hire could make sweeping changes to the organization, ones that affect the team's course in the short- and long-term. With a four-year, supermax contract set to begin next season, Wall is paying close attention to their every move.
He met with reporters for the first time in months during halftime of the Wizards' season finale on Tuesday night and offered his thoughts on Grunfeld's departure and what could come next for the franchise.
As for Grunfeld, Wall gave thanks to the man who drafted him No. 1 overall in 2010.
"I wish him the best of luck and hope that he can get another job somewhere. I appreciate everything he's done for us and everything he did for my career," Wall said.
Wall, 28, is still unsure if he will play next year. He plans to rehab in Miami this summer but will stick around for several weeks after the season to see which direction majority owner Ted Leonsis goes with the GM position.
Wall expressed confidence in Leonsis' ability to make the right choice and believes there could be some benefits if he goes outside the organization with the hire. Wizards senior VP of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard is currently filling in as the interim GM after serving as Grunfeld's No. 2.
"Whoever we have or hire is going to be somebody that has watched us from the outside not the inside and understand what this team needs and what type of culture we need around here, what type of veterans we need and what type of leaders we need to make this team the right team," Wall said.
The Wizards could have many changes this season beyond their GM. They may have a new head coach, depending on what happens with Scott Brooks. They could also have another franchise building block by way of their first-round pick.
Where the Wizards will draft is not known yet, but there is a chance they could have a high selection. There is also a chance a point guard is the best player on the board come June. If they pick in the top four, perhaps Ja Morant of Murray State could be available.
Wall was asked about the Wizards possibly taking a point guard high in the draft. He said all of the right things, at least until the end.
"I would be fine. I would have no problem with that because it is what it is. You have to do what is best for the team. You have to make sure that we have pieces. And when I come back, he can be a great back-up to me," Wall said.
If the Wizards did draft a point guard and that player became a star or at least very good, it could present an interesting dynamic when Wall returns.
At the end of each season, Wall is usually quick to offer thoughts on what the team needs to add in the subsequent summer. Last year, for instance, he said the Wizards should add an athletic big man. They then jettisoned Marcin Gortat and signed Dwight Howard.
This time, Wall didn't cite a specific type of player the roster is missing. But he has noticed something about their team he would like to see change.
"I think most of the years I've been here we've always had five or six guys on one-year contracts. That's always tough to deal with because those guys are fighting for their lives and fighting to make sure they keep their jobs in this league. I think you kind of want to get and sustain a core group that you know is going to be here for a while," he said.
The Wizards entered this season with the second-most expiring contracts of any team, only behind the New Orleans Pelicans. The subject was downplayed by Wizards players, including Wall, in the preseason. But, as Wall now says, it was a problem.
As Wall keeps an eye on the Wizards' moves, he remains patient in his rehab, knowing he likely has at least 10 months to go. Returning at some point next season remains the goal, but it's too early to tell if he will be able to.
"I have no idea just yet. My goal is to," he said.
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