WASHINGTON (AP) Among the various reasons that Washington Wizards point guard John Wall figures this was what he called ''a wasted season'' with no playoff appearance was that having nine players on expiring contracts led to a contentious atmosphere.
''It was tough,'' Wall said Wednesday night, when he sat out Washington's final game because of swelling in his right knee, ''because at times when you have nine guys on one-year deals, everybody wanted the last word, every wanted the last say-so.''
Wall made a few separate references to the state of players' contracts. The Wizards set up their roster to provide flexibility and salary-cap space this coming offseason in order to be able to pursue Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant, who can join a new team as a free agent and grew up in the Washington area.
In a wide-ranging news conference, Wall also acknowledged that he and coach Randy Wittman had a shouting match at practice late in the season, but added that the pair has ''a great relationship.''
With a 40-41 record entering Wednesday, the club failed to make the playoffs after two consecutive trips to the second round, and Wittman's job is thought to be in jeopardy.
''He's been here (as an assistant or head coach) every year I've been in the NBA. He's helped me become a better player, improving me as a person. And just how he has been coaching us, we became a better defensive team. We made the playoffs because of him,'' Wall said. ''He's doing the best he can with the group of guys he has out there.''
That was a reference to all of the various injuries Washington dealt with over the course of the season, including to shooting guard Bradley Beal. He also delivered his end-of-season thoughts while missing Wednesday's finale against the Atlanta Hawks.
''Sometimes we thought we were a little better than what we were,'' Beal said. ''Our will to win and our focus just wasn't the same as it was previous years.''
He was asked whose fault that was.
''Who's responsible? Everybody,'' Beal answered. ''We can start from the top and go on down, but at the end of the day, there's not one single person that's responsible for it.''
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