John Wall Could Own the East Sooner Than You Think

1:20 | NBA
How much do NBA rookies make in their first contracts?
Saturday July 22nd, 2017

The Washington Wizards received great news Friday, as franchise point guard John Wall announced he would accept the team’s supermax contract extension offer. The extension adds four years to Wall’s existing contract, and could keep him in D.C. through 2023. The final season of the deal is a player option.

Wall’s extension coincides with swingman Otto Porter also signing a max deal this summer, solidifying the team’s young core of Wall, Porter and shooting guard Bradley Beal. All three are signed through at least 2020, and Washington will likely have to continue to dip into the luxury tax to ensure it remains a contender throughout the length of their deals.

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In an era of superstar instability, Wall’s decision is extremely meaningful for the Wizards. The announcement came the same day Kyrie Irving requested a trade, weeks after Jimmy Butler and Paul George were traded, and in the same month Gordon Hayward announced he would be leaving the Utah Jazz. Amid the flurry of movement, Wall is deciding to stay with a team that could soon shoot to the top of the imploding East.

Seriously, who in Wall’s conference will be a contender at this time next year? If LeBron heads West and Kyrie leaves Ohio, the Cavs will freefall. Toronto’s core is older than Washington’s, and less talented to boot. Would you rather have the Wizards’ big three of Wall, Beal and Porter, or the Celtics’ likely three-max core of Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford and Hayward?

Alex Brandon, AP

Wall’s deal is more than just about him taking the most money possible. And we know Wall is sensitive about his contract situation. He’s also now set himself up for potentially huge success right as he’s about to enter his prime. Wall will turn 27 right before the start of this season, meaning he should spend the best years of his career—with seemingly healthier knees than in the past—all with the Wizards.

The way LeBron has put a stranglehold on the East, it’s hard to imagine any other star exerting any level of control over the conference. But why not Wall? His speed is his most exciting trait, but his well-rounded game is often overlooked. He can play fast or run a halfcourt offense. He makes players around him significantly better. And he’s dramatically improved as a shooter since his first three years in the league. With still a little more room to grow, Wall has the potential to the biggest star in his half of the league in a post-LeBron era.

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As constructed today, the Wizards aren’t title contenders. The Ian Mahinmi contract is an albatross, the bench is still suspect at best, and their core still lacks star power compared to the NBA’s real heavy hitters. But in an era when stars are maximizing leverage more than anything else, having your superstar under contract for as long as Wall is qualifies as its own achievement.

Washington has cleared the biggest hurdle numerous NBA teams have faced the last few seasons: Commitment. With Wall signed for the long haul, the Wizards have taken the most important step in trying to bring a championship to the nation’s capital.

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