The 2019-20 NBA season is still on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it's still not clear when we'll see teams back out on the court again -- though the league is reportedlyto finish things up.
In any case, even if there isn't actual basketball right now, there's still plenty to talk about. And some of the best conversations surrounding the league come from Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes on their "All The Smoke" podcast. In large part, because they're former players, they've created an environment where guests open up and speak their mind in a way that doesn't always happen in interviews.
That was certainly the case in their latest episode, which featured Washington Wizards guard John Wall. After making five straight All-Star Games, Wall suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon and hasn't played since December of 2018. Over the course of such a long absence, he's become something of a forgotten man around the league.
But let Wall tell it, he's going to change that as soon as he gets back:
When I'm not playing, I'm watching these guys play. Like these young guys, they killing our team and they looking at our bench and stuff. Just know I got those written down in my notes for when I come back when they start next season. I can't wait to see them what I got, what I'm about. But I'm gonna be better than what I was before, and that's the scary part. Damn near the whole five years I was an All-Star I played with two bone spurs in my knee and my heel. People don't know that. They ain't even get the best of John Wall yet, they just got a clip of him.
Wall does have a point that when he finally gets back on the floor, he'll be completely healthy in a way he probably never was during his All-Star run. At the same time, torn Achilles tendons are a notoriously difficult injury to return from in general, but especially for players whose game is built around athleticism. And just a few months shy of turning 30, Wall really isn't that young anymore.
That's not to say he's going to be a bad player when he returns, but being even better than he was before the injury is going to be a tough task. If he does manage to pull that off, however, the Wizards will be able to make some noise in the East again with him and Bradley Beal.
Speaking of the Wizards' high-scoring shooting guard, Wall also discussed the constant rumors surrounding their relationship:
"We both want to be stars. We both want to take the game-winning shots … But at the end of the day, they always say, 'Well, they don't like each other. They downgrading each other.' Ain't no John Wall without Bradley Beal. Ain't no Bradley Beal without John Wall. We make each other better. We accommodate each other so well on the court and it works easy for us."
There have been whispers about the status of their relationship for years, and, "I think a lot of times we have a tendency to dislike each other on the court." Regardless of the interpersonal relationship, there are some real team-building conversations to be had about whether they are the duo to lead the Wizards into the future.
However, with Wall's massive contract and torn Achilles, and Beal's loyalty to the franchise, it seems like that decision may have been made for them. There's no doubt the simplest path forward now is to keep them together. And Wall does have a point about them needing each other. Wall never led the Wizards to the playoffs before Beal arrived, and Beal hasn't been able to get Washington there since Wall's been injured.
Regardless of what the Wizards' front office decides to do, it's going to be fascinating to see what this team looks like when Wall gets back on the floor.