An Injured John Wall and An Overpaid Otto Porter: Have the Wizards Hit a Wall?
The 2017-2018 season is running rampant with injuries and Washington Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall is one of the latest victims. On Tuesday morning, January 30th league sources announced that Wall would be undergoing surgery on his left knee and would miss the majority of what’s left of this season. Prior to a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Wizard Head Coach Scott Brooks announced John Wall’s surgery and described it as a sad day for the franchise. Brooks also stated that Wall was seemingly dragging over the last few weeks and decided that it was best to undergo surgery rather than attempt to tough it out.
This is reportedly the ninth major injury in Wall’s career and the second of this season after missing nine games with what was listed as discomfort in the same left knee that is now being addressed surgically. In 2012, Wall missed 33 games with a traumatic injury to his left knee during the preseason. In May of 2016, he underwent a procedure on both knees. Now, he is facing the same traumatic situation with his left knee that he did in 2012.
With the constant issues that Wall has faced with his knees, and the trade deadline coming up, it may be easy for fans to say it’s time to trade him while the franchise can still get a lot out of his value — but this past offseason John Wall agreed to a $207-million-dollar contract extension that will start in 2019. This means that Wall cannot be traded until late July. Even if the Wizards wanted to part with John Wall they can’t until the offseason, when he should be able to resume play again anyway.
It’s no secret that John Wall hasn’t been himself this season. He hasn’t been healthy or playing up to the level he is certainly capable of. So, looking at his numbers for this year will not properly advocate for the point guard he truly is. Last year was a career year for John Wall. He carried the Wizards into a tight 7 game series in the Conference Finals. He averaged 23 points, almost 11 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals a game. He solidified himself as one of the best defensive players in the league, especially among guards. When healthy, this is not a point guard a franchise wants to part with. Wall is just entering his prime and has shown his commitment to Washington basketball. Paired with Bradley Beal, these two are always in the conversation for best backcourt in the NBA.
This begs the question, what should the Wizards do this season? As stated, the trade deadline is coming up and even without Wall the Wizards can still make a run in the playoffs, currently sitting at the 5th seed. Especially now that they are 5-0 since he has been out and assisting on 74% of their baskets, a gameplan that Bradley Beal describes as “Everybody Eats.” The Wizards are essentially one or two moves away from being a legitimate threat in the noticeably weaker Eastern Conference. But what moves should be made?
Washington is paying their starting small forward Otto Porter Jr. around $24-million-dollars a year. The numbers he is putting up are not at all what the Wizards expected. 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 assist a game are not exactly earth-moving. With his lack of consistent or even noticeable offensive or defensive play, the Wizards shouldn’t be too happy with investing this much cap space in him. However, he has some good performances at times and has shown flashes of potential. Therefore — Washington should move Otto while he is still showing the value of potential. Ideally for a big man of some sort, possibly Deandre Jordan or Myles Turner. Another target could be a more complete and consistent small forward such as Harrison Barnes. The Wizards are in a position where there aren’t too many options that will help them out for the remainder of the season. Their biggest problem lies in their lack of depth and they can’t significantly improve their bench until the offseason. That’s not to say that they shouldn’t make any moves. They most definitely should make a move and trading Otto Porter is one of the few that would be beneficial.
As previously mentioned, for the most part the Wizards likely won’t be able to contend this season without John Wall, depending on when he becomes healthy again. Trading Otto Porter Jr. can allow them to get someone who can rebound and defend better, or a player that can add to the scoring from Wall and Beal. Even if they don’t make a deep playoff run this season, don’t forget about the Washington Wizards next season as they will likely be completed by a healthy John Wall, an improved bench, and hopefully a roster that doesn’t include Otto Porter Jr.’s hefty contract.