UPDATE: The Wizards have confirmed that John Wall will undergo surgery on his left heel in a statement:
Wizards guard John Wall will undergo a debridement and repair of a Haglund’s deformity and a chronic Achilles tendon injury in his left heel. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Robert Anderson in Green Bay, WI, next week on a day to be determined. Wall is expected to return to full basketball activity in approximately six to eight months.
The 2018-19 season has become a worst-case scenario for the Washington Wizards who now, on top of being 10 games under .500, face the prospect of their five-time All-Star point guard John Wall being done for the year.
Wall saw a foot specialist on Saturday who recommended season-ending surgery to fix the bone spurs in his left heel, NBC Sports Washington confirmed. The 28-year-old faces a recovery timeline of six-to-eight months.
That long of rehab would not only keep Wall out for this season but affect much of his offseason as well. That, by the way, is the summer before his supermax contract worth $170 million kicks in. Wall is due to make about $38 million next season.
Losing Wall for the year would leave the Wizards in a difficult spot, to say the least. He is the focal point of their offense and their roster has essentially been built around him.
Last season, Wall missed exactly half of their games due to injuries. Though the Wizards managed to win 43 games and qualify for the playoffs, they went a pedestrian 20-21 without him. Tomas Satoransky stepped in to fill the void and will do the same this season for however long Wall is out.
Already in a 13-23 hole to begin this season, the pace they maintained without Wall last season would fall short of a playoff spot. They still have All-Star Bradley Beal, but the odds they make the postseason will be significantly affected.
The Wizards may have to make a big-picture decision here. Do they want to do whatever it takes to make the playoffs this season, or accept the fate of taking a step back and using what could be a prime first-round draft pick to re-tool for the future?
If the Wizards are intent on making the playoffs, a trade might be required to shore up the point guard position. Right now they are looking at Satoransky as the starter with a group of backups featuring Chasson Randle and Ron Baker. Though Troy Brown Jr. can play some point guard, the Wizards haven't shown they trust him there quite yet.
If they want to make a trade, there are some decent options out there on expiring deals, assuming they wouldn't take on future money at the point guard spot. Impending free agent point guards with reasonable salaries include Terry Rozier of the Celtics ($3.1M), D'Angelo Russell of the Nets ($7M), Derrick Rose of the Timberwolves ($2.2M), Patrick Beverley of the Clippers ($5M) and Elfrid Payton of the Pelicans ($3M).
The unfortunate irony is that the Wizards recently traded away one of their backup guards in Austin Rivers. He was dealt to the Phoenix Suns in the Trevor Ariza trade. Though Rivers struggled in his brief tenure with the Wizards, the team could use someone just like him right now.
Free agency wouldn't offer much for the Wizards, who have some experience navigating the point guard market. Last year, they signed Ty Lawson and Ramon Sessions as free agents midseason. They could find another, similar option this time around, though no one good enough to fill in as the starter.
If Wall does elect to have surgery, and it seems likely at this point, both he and the Wizards will be making a long-term play. That may be the smart way to go about things with Wall set to begin earning the biggest contract in franchise history.
But to really think big-picture, the Wizards may have to consider whether it's worth saving this season or not. They are nearing the midway point and only five teams currently have a worse record than them. Wall isn't their only injury, either. Dwight Howard was already lost for months with back surgery and Otto Porter Jr. can't seem to shake a right knee injury that has sidelined him for weeks.
With a 2019 draft class that appears overflowing with potential stars, R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson to name a few, the Wizards may be smart long-term to take their lumps. Good teams have made the most of down years before by falling into luck in the lottery. That's how the Spurs got Tim Duncan. This past summer, after a down year, the Memphis Grizzlies may have scored a future superstar in Jaren Jackson Jr.
The problem is that bottoming out and missing the playoffs, for a team with the preseason expectations the Wizards had, generally puts jobs on the line. Right or wrong, that has to enter the thinking of Wizards decision-makers who will ultimately have to make the call.
MORE WIZARDS NEWS:
- No Wall, No Porter, No win: Short-handed Wiz fall to Bulls
- Waiting is the hardest part: Wall to see foot specialist
- More to Come: Tomas Satoransky wants to dunk more after slam vs. Pistons
- Momentum Swing: Wiz in dire need of new year cheer