Since Washington Wizards point guard John Wall underwent knee surgery to clean out his left knee, there has been a lot of discussion from national television shows to Twitter about the team being better without the five-time All-Star point guard. Washington is not better without Wall and even if his teammates were trying to take shots at him, it has been overexaggerated through social media. Before the Wizards played the Boston Celtics on Thursday night, head coach Scott Brooks put the hot take item to bed.
One can talk about Wall’s poor defense and overall lackadaisical effort this season, but the truth of the matter is that he has been playing hurt since November 7th when he suffered his initial knee injury. At times he was able to play through it and look like the Wall of last season, but other times when it was tight he could barely move. Washington may be better without an injured John Wall, but they are not better with a healthy one that finished in the top 10 in MVP voting last season.
“John has never made an excuse,” Brooks said. “He was battling. [With] his knee, had some good days and had some bad days. He’s been battling since November and he still went out there and gave us everything he had. That’s kind of what we want to build our organization with. The guys that are going to compete and not make excuses.”
On Tuesday as a part of his partnership with Kumho Tires, Wall joined several television shows including The Jump, SportsCenter at 6, The Starters on NBA TV, and NBC Sports Washington for he was quite defensive of his status as a top point guard in the NBA after his image took a lot of heat from outsiders and potentially teammates as well.
“That’s the world we live in,” Brooks said about Wall defending himself in interviews on Thursday. “We see it all the time. We see it here in our city. Things are said and people say things. John is one of the best players in basketball. I can admire a guy that plays through some ups and downs. When we met early in November, with our doctors and Dr. Parker and our medical team and John, we felt the best thing for him was to move forward and just continue to do our rehab, manage him, and try to sit him out as many practices as we possible can. We knew, I knew he was going to have some good days and some tougher days. It’s easy to judge him on those days that he wasn’t playing as well as he would have liked to, but I looked at it as he is out there gutting it out for his team. To me, that’s a winner.”
Despite what others may say, Wall’s position in the franchise in unblemished by the recent drama in the past two weeks. In reality, there is also no way to move his four-year, $170 million supermax extension that kicks in next season even if the Wizards wanted to.
“It’s unfortunate that you got to defend yourself that way, I wish he wouldn’t have to, but sometimes you have to,” Brooks said in understanding of his point guard. “He knows how I feel about him, he knows how our organization, his teammates feel about him and for people to think that we are not better with John, that’s for clickbait. I guess that what they want to do and probably worked in some cases, but it hasn’t worked in our locker room.”
Brooks has done his best to keep outside noise away from his team by reiterating the same message to his team that they can control what they can control.
“What’s being said about us, you can’t worry about that. You just have to worry about what we can control and our attitude every day is to come in and work and do our jobs and be good teammates.”
With Marcin Gortat’s tweet about the Wizards good “team” win after the Orlando game and Wall responding that he gets the most “spoon-fed” baskets, Twitter had a blast that the former should be shipped out immediately. With the trade deadline passing, clearly Gortat is not going anywhere. Reasonably, Brooks did not make a big deal about it.
“You go through any team, any season when I was a player and you are going to have some disagreements with players and that’s not going to be our last one,” Brooks explained. “It might be one tonight with Brad and I. It’s just part of being a coach, it’s part of being a teammate. You are going to have those. These guys are brotherhoods and they around each other so much. Was it a misunderstanding? Probably. … So when players have a misunderstanding, you got to talk it out and move on. And I have no problem with what our guys are about.”
At the end of the day, both Wall and Gortat have made concessions for the betterment of the team.
“I know one thing is John is so unselfish. He leads the league in assists or basically the top two,” Brooks said.
“Marc is unselfish,” Brooks added. “He sets screens. Does Marc want more post touches? I’m sure he does. Every big in the league wants more post touches. There’s no more post touches, it’s not coming back. … He sets screens like nobody else.”
So, once in for all, let us stop talking about the Wizards being better without Wall and how Gortat should be traded for a slight, which may not have been, that was blown out of proportion similarly to Bradley Beal’s “everybody eats” phrase.