John Wall is Dunzo — Here's What His Injury Means for the Wizards | Wizards Blog Truth About

John Wall is Dunzo — Here’s What His Injury Means for the Wizards

Updated: December 30, 2018

[Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty]

Talk about a not-so-super Saturday. The Washington Wizards sent out a press release with news, an injury update, about the team’s biggest star.

“Wizards guard John Wall will undergo a debridement and repair of a Haglund’s deformity and a chronic Achilles tendon injury in his left heel. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Robert Anderson in Green Bay, WI, next week on a day to be determined. Wall is expected to return to full basketball activity in approximately six to eight months.”



So, what does this all mean for the Wizards now and in the future, considering that Wall’s $170 million supermax extension kicks in next year? Will the injury spell disaster or will the Wiz soldier on (and could they be better?).

Sean Fagan, Rashad Mobley and Adam Rubin—three members of the Truth About It gang—react.

Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)

With the news that John Wall is to undergo foot surgery (with a predicted 6-8 month recovery time), a Wizards’ season that was officially “lost” is now dead and buried with #WizardsTwitter leaping to scoop that extra shovel of dirt on the grave. The take machine is revved up and firing on all cylinders, with varying camps debating whether the Wizards should actively tank and, of course, how this is the ideal time to renounce the services of Ernie Grunfeld. There’s even a smattering of criticism directed at Wall.

But what really chafes at the underside of this writer’s chassis is how the injury itself was announced, another in a line of #SoWizards pronouncements that leave an observer of the team raging in mute silence at an organization that can’t communicate with its supporters except to assume that they have the IQ and emotional intelligence of a toddler.

Instead of a straightforward announcement that Wall was visiting a foot specialist and might need the requisite (and nausea-inducing) surgery, it was leaked to Candace Buckner at WaPo that not only was Wall consulting on whether the surgery was necessary but that he had been dealing with this injury for YEARS.

And just like that, the Wizards perform a tidy little magic trick and flip the narrative towards “we could’ve X, but injuries” and further cover up their own mess by saying that Wall has been gutted through the injury for longer than anyone’s known and the best thing for him is to finally take care of his body.

Nevermind the fact that if this injury has been around for years it means:

  • Ernie once again gave a favorite son a mega-max extension despite the the existence of a pre-existing injury;
  • The Wizards allowed Wall to gut through last season and drag them into a hopeless position as the 8th seed (once again with this existing foot condition);
  • The Wizards once again willfully obfuscated the health of their players, which leads me to believe that the medical personnel in the Vault basically heal everything through the miracle of duct tape.

In the next few weeks, you will probably hear from the Wizards’ brass on how this setback shouldn’t affect your opinion of the franchise and how one has to “stay the course” and how injuries cannot be predicted. But Wall’s injury is just the latest in what seems to be a catastrophic litany of injuries that appear to afflict the Wizards more than any other franchise. They purchase players on the open market, who immediately develop debilitating conditions, they sign players to long-term contracts who break down like a Ford Focus leaving the used car lot. Meanwhile the players they let go suddenly seem to have a new lease on life. Nene—famously encased in ice for most of his tenure on the Wizards—regained spryness on the Rockets, and three-time champion Shaun Livingston still operates and thrives on Golden State.

The calendar has yet to turn to 2019 and the Wizards season is already over and their best player is once again on the shelf. In truth, it could be almost any other Wizards season.


Rashad Mobley (@rashad20)

When I initially heard that John Wall would be missing the remainder of the season due to foot surgery, I literally said aloud to no one in particular, “This is Gilbert Arenas all over again!”

Apparently, that was a popular sentiment to have.

Then, as most Wizards/Bullets fan are wont to do, I immediately started thinking of season-salvaging scenarios that would soften the blow of Wall’s absence, and I have no problem admitting that I did a damn good job of this. Initially. But then it became painfully clear that trying to extract even an ounce of goodness out of this season or next is the equivalent of me trying to put a fitted sheet on my bed. One part of the bed will look immaculate, but only at the expense of the other side of the bed, which will be left looking rumpled and just flat out messy. Allow me to explain.

Let’s say the Wizards choose to tank their way into the lottery and get a chance at one of the impact players in the 2019 NBA Draft. The fate and playing time of that player would be left in the hands of Coach Scott Brooks, and any trades before or after this draft would be written, produced and performed by Mr. Ernie Grunfeld.

The other option for this season involves the entire team rallying around Bradley Beal. Let’s say Markieff Morris, Otto Porter and Dwight Howard all return to peak form (!!), and that core, combined with the newfound confidence of Tomas Satoransky, Troy Brown, Chasson Randle and Thomas Bryant, buoys the Wizards into the playoffs. They would realistically be a 6-, 7- or 8-seed. The Wizards would still most likely lose in the first round the way they did last year, and Ted Leonsis would inform Wizards Nation that the team was going to stay the course, because a healthy Wall would be back next season to save the day.

The last scenario I cooked up in my head involved trading Wall, Beal or Otto Porter, but again, that reconstruction of the roster would be overseen by Mr. Grunfeld. These scenarios, combined with the former Wizards beat writer J. Michael indicating that Wall’s foot problem was a long time coming (or a long time lasting), is simply depressing—like this damn fitted bedsheet I still can’t get a handle on affixing.

I suppose there’s an outside chance that Ted Leonsis could decide that this season was his breaking point, relieve both Brooks and Grunfeld of their duties, trade Beal, Wall or Otto, and finally convince the fans that a Sam Cooke-type change is gon’ come. But that’s crazy talk right?


Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace)

The nightmare scenario is that John Wall’s season-ending surgery provides cover for Ted, Ernie and Brooks to write this season off as an unfortunate series of injuries and run it back again with the same group. After all, that’s what they did last year.

The Wizards began the 2017-18 season almost as listless as they did this season with a handful of uninspiring losses. The season was already spiraling downward before John Wall underwent surgery after playing 37 games.

Nevertheless, the Wizards blamed their disappointing season, which ended with a first-round playoff exit, on Wall’s injury and spent the off-season making cosmetic changes to the roster. After Dwight Howard came on board, Ted called this the deepest roster of his tenure and declared 50 wins or bust.

It’s important to remember this history, because the Wizards ownership and front office seem destined to repeat it. Ted and Ernie seem to be the only ones who do not realize that this Wizards core has run its course.

John Wall’s injury does provide an opportunity to re-assess the short-term and long-term prospects for this team but there is very little evidence that Ernie is up for the task. The win-now trade for Trevor Ariza was the latest example that management still believes this team is one or two pieces away from contending in the East.

On the bright side, the lowered expectations for this season may nudge Scott Brooks to give more minutes than he otherwise would to the young guys on the roster who he clearly does not trust. With only five players under contract for next season, it would be helpful to find out if Troy Brown could be a rotation player next season and if Devin Robinson is worth continued investment.

Others have suggested that Washington should pivot to tanking in the wake of Wall’s season-ending injury. But they already have the sixth-worst record in the NBA. One could argue that Scott Brooks has already been tanking with some of his no-offense lineups. It’s unclear how much lower they could go—short of a Bradley Beal shutdown.

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John Converse Townsend
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
John has been part of the editorial team at TAI since 2010. He likes: pocket passes, chase-down blocks, 3-pointers. He dislikes: typos, turnovers, midrange jump shots.