After starting the season 2-8, Scott Brooks’ Washington Wizards are a mess on both sides of the ball. Key players aren’t productive enough, and the team’s general effort is abysmal. However, one player personifies the Wizards struggles: John Wall.
Wall deserves a hefty dose of blame for Washington sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. After signing a four-year, $170 million max contract extension with the Wizards in 2017 (which still hasn’t kicked in), Wall’s production has fallen off the side of a cliff. It’s early, but Wall shooting 28 percent from the three in five attempts and averaging just 7.6 assists – a far cry from the 9.6 or higher he’s posted since 2014-15. He’s lost a step as he’s gotten older.
Wall also doesn’t look like he’s in great shape physically. The 28-year-old hasn’t been awful, but he’s not playing at the expected superstar level Wizards brass expected after promising him more than $40 million+ AAV per season. It’s a bad contract, but how awful is it? According to First Take’s Max Kellerman, it’s the worst contract since Ryan Howard’s five-year, $125 million extension in 2009.
Kellerman’s hot take reeks of hyperbole and recency bias.
There are at least five contracts in the NBA – let alone pro sports – worse than Wall’s.
Chandler Parsons turned a good season in Dallas into a hefty payday in Memphis, earning a four-year, $94 million deal in 2016. Since then, he’s failed to average double-digit points, hasn’t even been healthy for half-a-season for his first two years, and is a shell of his former self. Memphis still owes Parsons just under $50 million for this season and next.
Another 2016 contract worth mentioning is Wall’s teammate Ian Mahinmi. The Wizards gave the center $64 million over two seasons and have gotten a mediocre bench big who’s game has been phased out of the NBA.
Let’s also remember both Timofey Mozgov and Ryan Anderson are making $30+ million until 2019-20 and can’t play. Same goes for Luol Deng and Joakim Noah. The Summer of 2016 got many mediocre players paid who now represent awful, hard-to-move cap hits.
Separating Wall from the pact is he’s still a productive player. At 28, he’s not exactly so far out of his prime that he’s a heavy cap hit and nothing more. Wall can still be a productive NBAer for another decade. Furthermore, his contract, while terrible, is also tradeable. There would be multiple teams willing to take on putrid money in order to get somewhat productive point guard play. Do you think Phoenix or Orlando would take him on in exchange for cap relief and future assets? Absolutely.
The problem for the Wizards is Wall is getting paid like an upper-echelon point guard when he’s somewhere in the middle of the pact. He’s still good, but not as good as he used to be. A change of scenery would do Wall and the Wizards cap situation good. His contract is a detriment, but not as much as some, like Kellerman, believe.