NBA PM: John Wall Reiterates Playoff Goal
VIDEO OF THE DAY – John Wall
HOOPSWORLD catches up with Washington Wizards star John Wall at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.Watch More Video Here
Last offseason, John Wall made it clear that he was tired of the Washington Wizards landing in the draft lottery. He wanted to experience the postseason for the first time in his NBA career and told anyone who would listen that making the playoffs was the goal for the Wizards in the 2012-13 season.
While that initially seemed possible due to the talent around Wall, Washington succumbed to injuries early in the season. Wall was sidelined due a stress injury in his knee, and the Wizards started the season 0-12 as a result. By the time the star point guard made his season debut on Jan. 12, the Wizards were 5-28. Last year didn’t go as planned, but now Wall is setting the same goal for the 2013-14 season and he has reason for optimism since Washington had a strong finish to last season.
The Wizards were a much-improved team with Wall in the lineup, beating playoff teams such as the Atlanta Hawks, Denver Nuggets, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies.
In the final months of the season, Wall made huge strides, hitting jumpers consistently for the first time in his career and averaging a terrific 22.4 points, 7.9 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals in the month of March. If the Wizards can duplicate the success that they had when healthy last season, the team should be able to end their five-year playoff drought.
“I think we can be a good team and I think we can make the playoffs,” Wall said. “We just have to be healthy. That’s the main thing for us. We’ve got to be healthy and we’ve got to get off to a good start. We don’t want to start off behind. We need to come in healthy and have everyone working to get better.”
Wall must continue to play at a high level and click with second-year guard Bradley Beal if the Wizards want to accomplish that goal. Fortunately for Washington, Wall and Beal are close friends who have known each other for many years, which helps their on-court chemistry.
“We kind of clicked right away so it’s kind of easy for us,” Wall said of his relationship with Beal. “When we get a chance to be around each other, there’s an instant, automatic [connection]. He’s a little brother to me and I’m kind of like a big brother to him. We get along really well so it’s cool.”
Rather than vacationing or taking time off during the offseason, Wall is working hard and supporting his young teammates who are playing in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. Wall has been courtside at the Wizards’ games and participating in the team’s workouts. Wall wants to grow as a leader and role model for the Wizards, which is why he’s present at events like this.
“It’s about leadership and it’s about me always wanting to support my teammates,” Wall said. “I always put my teammates before me and I’m always trying to improve as a leader. I want to be a leader for these guys. And why not come watch some good basketball? I mean, it’s the NBA and I always love watching basketball. I might as well come to Vegas, watch basketball and get in some good workouts with my teammates and coaches.”
This offseason, the Wizards drafted Otto Porter and re-signed Martell Webster. They’re also in the running for a few other free agents, including Nate Robinson. Wall is very pleased with the job the Wizards’ front office has done this summer.
“I love the way my organization – the GM, owner, president, coaching staff, all of those guys upstairs – have done a great job building the team,” Wall said. “My job is just to go out there, play on the court, help the team win and make the city fall in love with us again. That’s my job.”
Wall can sign a long-term extension with the Wizards this offseason and his representatives have already been in negotiations with the team. Last season, Wall made it clear that he believes he’s worth a max contract, but it remains to be seen what Washington is willing to pay him.
Evans Signing in Europe
Mo Evans is on the verge of signing with a team in Europe, according to sources close to the situation.
Evans played in Greece and Turkey before his nine-year NBA career took off and that’s where he’ll finish his playing days.
The 34-year-old is currently talking with several overseas teams and will soon decide which team he’ll sign with.
Evans averaged 6.7 points over the course of his NBA career and also played a large role with the National Basketball Players Association, where he served as a vice president of the executive committee for several years. During the most recent lockout, Evans was heavily involved in the negotiations between the union and the league.
While Evans briefly considered retirement after not receiving a guaranteed offer from an NBA team last season, he has decided to resume his career in Europe and he’s excited about the opportunity.
“I didn’t retire and I’m healthy,” Evans said in a statement to HOOPSWORLD. “I just didn’t get an offer last season except for a non-guaranteed invite to Minnesota. I thought I could do better as the season went along and nothing ever transpired so I took a year off and spent real time with my kids. I did think about retiring because I had some business stuff that I was exploring and still have in place, so maybe that’s why people thought I was done. I have to admit that I was shocked and pissed that I didn’t get a call because I can play without any limitations. I went from helping negotiate the new collective bargaining agreement to being left out. I was like, ‘Wow, how does that happen?’ But I can honestly say that the NBA is a great league – the best in the world. I played a part in it as a player and a union leader. Now, I’m ready to go back to Europe and do some more great things. I’m having some talks and should decide soon on which team I will sign with. I do wish I could end my career in the NBA, but I’m ready to start drinking sparkling water – as they say in Europe – and do what I still enjoy doing most.”