NBA PM: John Wall Tired of Falling Short
John Wall Ready to Make the Leap
Two years in the league, and former #1 overall pick John Wall has nothing to show for it. Not a postseason appearance, and not an All-Star or All-NBA selection. For a player as notoriously competitive as Wall, that kind of failure doesn’t sit well, and that’s something he hopes to remedy this upcoming season.
“It’s time for me to be in the playoffs. It’s time for me to be an All-Star,” Wall told HOOPSWORLD while taking in some action at the Las Vegas Summer League. “Those are all things that I’ve been wanting. I want to help the Washington Wizards get better as an organization, and that’s all up to me to lead my team.”
His team will start next season with a lot of new faces, including rookie Bradley Beal and trade acquisitions Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. Even center Nene, who was added at last season’s trade deadline, has yet to play a full season in Washington, but Wall thinks all of these players are good enough to help get his team to take a giant step forward in 2012-2013.
“The way we ended the season last year, [Nene] could end up being an All-Star for us this year,” Wall said. “He’s a player with good talent—he can score in the post, he can pass, he can make shots—and that makes the job a lot easier for us.”
Okafor and Beal should play big roles for the new-look Wizards, as well.
“Sometimes you can give [Beal] the ball and he’ll make plays, and sometimes he can find the open shooter. It’s good to have guys that make can make open shots and do some other things, but it’s great that we’ve got him,” Wall said, adding, “We can score in all types of ways… and having a defensive presence like Emeka could be really great.”
With all the veteran additions, it really is a very different team than the one that started off the lockout-shortened season seven months ago. What the Wizards have done in so short a time, however, is retool the team so that it no longer looks like a young core rebuilding for the future and instead resembles a Wall-led group of veterans that, at the very least, is going to bang and compete every night with the bigger and more physical teams in the league.
This isn’t a burgeoning, rebuilding team anymore. This is now a group with expectations, and they are expectations Wall is ready to live up to in his third NBA season.
“I’m very confident,” he said. “The organization, the owner, the general manager, and the coaching staff have all done a great job. Now we have to go out there and execute with what they’ve given us, and do our best.”
Asik’s Impending Offer Sheet Looks Bad For Either Team
Now that Jeremy Lin is officially bound for Houston, the Rockets will turn their attention to Bulls restricted free agent Omer Asik, the other poison pill contract the team agreed to during the moratorium almost two weeks ago.
Even without taking a long, hard look at the Houston roster, most people would probably assume that it’s got to be pretty close to overflowing with guys, and that assumption would be exactly right. Between all those trades and all those draft picks, the Rockets are going to have to waive a player and then wait 48 hours before they can officially sign Asik to the offer sheet.
That’s a long, drawn-out process—particularly for the Chicago Bulls, who have been given way more than three days to make a call on Asik because of the way this has all played out—but the Asik situation raises a couple of interesting questions for both Houston and Chicago.
For the Rockets, there’s the issue of how this affects the team’s pursuit of Dwight Howard, to which the easy answer would be, it doesn’t. If the Rockets do get Asik, they’ll owe him and Lin a combined $30 million in 2014-2015, and you can tack on another $20+ million to that if they end up with Howard. However, the rest of this roster is full of very young guys on rookie deals. Some of them will need extensions in three years, but the Rockets don’t necessarily have to hand those out if they feel their money is better spent elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Asik would serve as a backup to Howard at around $5 million a season for two seasons, and if he really wanted to, Daryl Morey could ship off Asik’s $14-15 million expiring deal in the summer of 2014 because by then, expiring deals are probably going to be pretty desirable commodities with the way teams are spending right now.
Plus, a reasonable deal for Dwight still can be built around Kevin Martin’s $12.9 million expiring contract, young prospects galore, and draft picks, should that be the route Orlando ends up deciding to go.
None of that will make any difference if the Chicago Bulls match the offer sheet, but league sources contradict on whether that will happen. The New York Knicks have been heavily criticized in the media for letting Jeremy Lin walk away to Houston in an almost identical deal with nothing to show for it. The Bulls don’t want to lose their asset, and if they swallow this deal—poison pill and all—it’s to avoid falling into the same trap.
Notoriously frugal Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf does not want to pay the luxury tax. He never has, and his unwillingness to do it now is a big reason the team hasn’t had much luck in landing talented rotation players like O.J. Mayo and Courtney Lee. Matching Asik and rounding out the roster with at least three minimum contracts bumps the team right up towards the top of that luxury tax apron set around $74 million. Spending any more money on this roster than the bare minimum will mean paying the tax, and again, this is Jerry Reinsdorf we’re talking about.
If the Bulls really want to stay financially responsible without giving away Asik, they will eventually have to either let Taj Gibson walk away as a restricted free agent next summer (or trade him before that happens), amnesty Carlos Boozer, or look at deals for Joakim Noah.
Team president John Paxson and GM Gar Forman want to match Asik because it’s the smart thing to do from a basketball standpoint, but whether or not they actually pull the trigger will depend on whether Reinsdorf gives them the green light.
Either way, this Asik deal causes problems for the team who ends up with him. He’s a great defensive center—arguably one of the best in the league—but the deal he agreed to is brutal, and it’s brutal for both the Rockets and the Bulls. In a few days, we’ll find out which team is blessed with that burden.
Brandon Rush Hoping for Stability in Free Agency
Restricted free agency is a headache for fans, having to wait those three days on a decision and all, but it’s even harder for the restricted free agents themselves. Golden State’s Brandon Rush, for example, is having to wait out the first wave of free agency in gyms, hauling up jumpers and lifting weights to keep his mind off the anxiety of not knowing his future in the league.
“It’s very stressful because you don’t know who you’re going to end up with and where you’re going to be,” Rush told HOOPSWORLD between workouts at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas. “I’m taking this opportunity to get better, work on my game, and figure out what I’m going to do next year.”
What he did last year was average a career-high 9.8 ppg, while shooting a career-high 50.1% from the field and a whopping 45.2% from three. Those aren’t numbers the Warriors are expected to take lightly as they consider offering him a new deal this summer. So far, Golden State has made it clear that they’d like to keep him.
“It’s a great feeling to be wanted somewhere, to know they believe in what you’ve got and what you bring to the table,” Rush said.
Meanwhile, all he can do is fine-tune his game and make sure he’s at his best physically when the season finally does roll around.
“My goal is to come into camp in the greatest shape possible,” he said. “I want to avoid injuries, which is why I’ve been working so hard with a lot of NBA players out here (at Impact). I’m getting some good runs on during the summertime.”
Rush hopes that’s enough to find himself in the best situation possible, which to him means two things: making the postseason and planting some roots for his family.
“I had a chance to experience the playoffs with the Pacers a couple years ago, and it was a life experience,” he said. “Whoever I’m with, I’m looking forward to making it to the playoffs.
“It’d be nice to be somewhere for a few years and not have to move my family around with me, to have a stable situation,” he added. “I just want to find somewhere I can get comfortable with, and then play some basketball.”
As the bigger names in free agency settle down, Rush gets closer to finding himself the deal he’s hoping for, and the Warriors look like they can give him everything he wants. Rush has already proven he do plenty for them, too.