Wizards point guard John Wall has signed a five-year contract extension worth about $80 million, according to The Washington Post. The deal is for the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement.
Wall, the No. 1 pick in 2010, is the first member of his draft class to sign an extension. First-round picks entering their fourth years have until Oct. 31 to sign extensions; otherwise, they would become restricted free agents next summer. Wall's new contract will kick in for the 2014-15 season. He's under contract for $7.5 million next season.
Wall, 22, averaged a career-high 18.5 points, 7.6 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game last season. He ranked sixth among point guards in Player Efficiency Rating (20.9), behind Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry. He missed the first two months of the season with a knee injury. The Wizards went 24-25 with Wall in the lineup and 5-28 when he was out.
The Wizards have yet to make the playoffs in Wall's three seasons, going 23-59, 20-46 and 29-53. Wall missed 13 games as a rookie and 33 last season. He appeared in all 66 games in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season.
“I just need to be in the playoffs. That’s my only goal,” Wall said last week in Las Vegas, where he participated in a USA Basketball minicamp. “Fourth year going in, I need to have a full, healthy season and make the playoffs. That’s all I’m looking forward to.”
Wall said in Las Vegas that he belongs among the elite point guards.
“I feel like when I’m healthy, I’m right there with them,” he said. “I put myself in the category.”
In March, SI.com's Rob Mahoney assessed the strengths and weaknesses of Wall's game:
Wall, 22, is a terrific athlete. He possesses the balance and straight-line speed to perhaps become an elite penetrator. But lingering concern over his shooting ability makes it difficult to project his effectiveness. Elite perimeter shooting may not be a prerequisite of high-level point-guard play, but it certainly helps in executing a solid offense. By projecting a threat as a shooter, Wall would twist the defense and carve out lanes to the rim or to the open man, to say nothing of the more creative play design that would feature him as an off-ball cog rather than a ball-dominant instigator.The Post reported that the Wizards will hold a news conference on Thursday to announce Wall's new contract.
For now, Wall helps offset his shooting limitations with his terrific vision — a defining characteristic that separates him from other rangeless, drive-centric lead guards. Wall is already a better passer than off-the-dribble creators such as Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose were at similar stages of development, giving him an opportunity to grow into a more balanced skill set. In the meantime, those playmaking skills also allow him to boost the Wizards’ offense even as he rounds out his overall game, though relying on Wall exclusively in such a capacity oversimplifies Washington’s play actions and curbs its lineup flexibility.
Wall faces a far steeper learning curve on the defensive end, where he has the ability to stay in front of his man, the physical gifts to (theoretically) be a terrific help defender and a staggering lack of discipline that otherwise complicates his play. Straying from a defensive assignment can be completely manageable in the right circumstances, and in Wall’s case he is able to snag plenty of steals to help justify his decision-making. But teams and players need to be on the same page when it comes to freelancing in the passing lanes, and the Wizards’ defense has never quite given me the impression that Wall’s gambles are calculated risks. Perhaps those very plays are ones that Washington can come to live with as Wall improves the rest of his coverage, but for the moment they simply offer another reason to be uncertain about his defensive future.