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John Wall braces for change, says he's okay with Wizards drafting PG

John Wall braces for change, says he's okay with Wizards drafting PG

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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Wizards release statement on the passing of John Wall's mother

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Wizards release statement on the passing of John Wall's mother

The Washington Wizards announced the passing of John Wall's mother, Frances Pulley on Friday. 

Wall's mother had been battling cancer before her passing. She was 58. 

In a statement on Twitter, the Wizards said, "Sending thoughts and love for John Wall and his family after the passing of his mother, Frances Pulley. She will forever be a part of our #DCFamily."

Zach Leonsis, the senior vice president of strategic initiatives at Monumental Sports & Entertainment, also released a statement

"Thinking of @JohnWall and his family right now. Keeping you guys in our prayers. So terribly sorry for your loss and know that she will be remembered forever. #DCFamily

Wall's Kentucky coach, John Calipari also expressed his condolences for his former star: 


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Bradley Beal sees a young John Wall in the Grizzlies rookie sensation Ja Morant

Bradley Beal sees a young John Wall in the Grizzlies rookie sensation Ja Morant

WASHINGTON -- It is not often you see a rookie find initial success in the NBA to the degree Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant has, already with borderline All-Star numbers at the age of 20. And oftentimes, opponents are careful throwing out player comparisons for guys his age, wanting to see more before they anoint anyone.

Morant, though, is a different case and questions from media members at Wizards practice this week as the team gets set to face him for the first time naturally led to parallels to great players. On Thursday, Brooks brought up unprompted how much Morant reminds him of Russell Westbrook, his former player in Oklahoma City.

And on Friday, Bradley Beal invoked a teammate of his when breaking down what makes Morant so good.

"He loves to get up and down. He's really fast with the ball. It reminds you of John [Wall] in a lot of ways. He plays with his pace," Beal said.

Through 19 games this season, Morant is averaging 18.7 points, 6.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He is shooting 42.2 percent from three on 2.2 attempts.

The threes have been surprising to most, as he shot a relatively modest 36.3 percent his final year in college at Murray State. But also surprising maybe just how lethal he has been at attacking the rim.

Sure, that was a big part of his game in college. But this is the NBA where athletes are much bigger and stronger. And he isn't the biggest guy either, weighing in at 175 pounds according to Basketball-Reference.

But despite lacking in size, he has shown an ability to finish through contact rarely seen from any player.

"I think he has a no-fear type of mentality. So, you have to respect his aggressiveness," Beal said. "He'll get respect from a lot of players in the league, a lot of refs in the league because of his aggressiveness and... with all the posters he has. So, he's an assassin. You gotta respect his game."

Beal likely won't draw the defensive assignment on Morant. That will probably go to Ish Smith and back-up point guard Chris Chiozza, who is with the team while Isaiah Thomas recovers from a left calf injury.

Beal knows it is going to be tough for the whole Wizards team to contain Morant. He said the trick will be trying to stay in front of him, though he knows that is easier said than done.

Really, Morant is such a unique player that the Wizards can only gameplan and prepare so much until they actually experience facing him for the first time.

"He's gonna be a handful," Beal said.