The Wizards were wildly disappointing last season. After being expected to make the playoffs, Washington cratered as their defense couldn't sustain after changes to increase pace. They also suffered the most injuries of any team last year in terms of games missed through January, putting them in too deep a hole to climb out of.
But there's another lingering issue. Bradley Beal landed a max deal this summer, and now makes significantly more than John Wall. There have been rumors of issues between the veterans and the dynamic duo earlier this year. Now in an interview with CSN Mid Atlantic, Wall admits outright that the two have had a contentious relationship in the past.
"I think a lot of times we have a tendency to dislike each other on the court. ... We got to be able to put that to the side. If you miss somebody on one play or don't have something go right ... as long as you come to each other and talk. If I starting arguing with somebody I'm cool. I'm just playing basketball," Wall said in a sitdown interview with CSN's Chris Miller that airs tonight, Wizards Central: Offseason Grind, at 7:30 p.m. ET.
"Now that you have your money you got to go out there and improve your game. I want you to be an All-Star just as much as I'm an All-Star. If we were playing well as a tandem like the other two superstars that play together as a backcourt, play as a tandem, one night it's going to be his night, one night it's going to be mine, some nights it might be both of us. Those are nights it's going to be tough to beat us."
So this is not good. Wall's always very reasonable and upfront about things. He's not blunt, per se, he just doesn't parse things and is pretty direct with quotes to the media. Five thoughts:
1. Later in this interview, Wall refers to Beal as his "sidekick." He follows up by saying he himself is No. 1 and Beal is "1-A," and "right there." But Robin is not "right there" with Batman. He's Robin. And even though Wall is 100 percent right about those two in terms of experience, talent, production, and ability, you just don't say that. Because the last person to want to be called a sidekick was Robin, and he's a fictional person.
2. They both admit in the post (and televised interview) that they need to work on their problems in order to achieve what they want, but at the same time, the article mentions they don't spend time off the court together. The issues are on the floor and they don't spend time together off the court, so when exactly are they going to work this out?
3. Wall's been telegraphing some discomfort lately. He wasn't happy about Reggie Jackson getting a bigger deal than he did, even with that just being a cap causality. He has made noise about how little billboards there are for him and the Wizards in D.C. and has blasted the fans who have been pretty mild as well. He needed multiple knee surgeries which doctors couldn't believe he hadn't had yet.
4. In the article, Beal talks about how "Wall wouldn't be in this situation without (Beal)" just as the opposite is true. Except Wall is an All-Star, former No.1 pick and one of the five best point guards in the NBA, while Beal has never played a full season and still keeps taking mid-range jumpers.
5. If they get on the same page and Scott Brooks (who has some experience with superstar egos) can get them to get along, it's all going to be fine. But if they keep heading down this path and the finger pointing continues like it did last year, there are going to be problems with the Wizards. Wall is good enough to lift this team to the playoffs. A healthy and productive Beal could help get them closer to home court. They can make another run. But they need to get this team on the same page, and they don't have a lot of time to do that, even in a long NBA season.