Wizards’ John Wall on pressure following new deal: ‘It’s way bigger than what it was’

August 1, 2013
This is kind of a big deal. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
This is kind of a big deal. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

John Wall wore flip-flops and socks, Wizards basketball shorts and a T-shirt when he signed a five-year, $80 million contract extension on Wednesday that vaults him — at least from a financial perspective — into the company of NBA elite.

The understated outfit was a contrast to outsize pressure, scrutiny and expectations that come with being the first member of the 2010 draft class to receive a maximum deal. Last week in Las Vegas, Wall said he is “ready for anything” that comes with the new contract.

And in an interview with Monumental Sports Network shortly after agreeing to stay in Washington through 2019, Wall said that he understands the challenges ahead of him.

“It’s way bigger than what it was,” said Wall, who will have a news conference this afternoon at 2 p.m. “Being the number one pick, it was big stuff I had to come in and try to do. Now being the franchise guy, there is a lot more that comes into it. On and off the court, you got to be very marketable, you got to have a great image.”

With no playoff or all-star appearances, Wall has a ways to go match the on-court accomplishments of Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams, the other NBA point guards to receive max contracts.

Paul is a six-time all-star, two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time first-team all-NBA performer. Rose is a former MVP, three-time all-star and world championship gold medal winner who has been to the conference finals. Westbrook has helped his team reach the NBA Finals, won a gold medal in the Olympics and the world championships.  Williams is a two-time all-star, two-time Olympic gold medalist, has been second-team all-NBA and led his team to the conference finals.

“I feel like I have the ability to be better than any of those guys,” Wall told MSN. “One thing those guys are doing is they are winning and they are also making it to the playoffs. With this type of deal and being a franchise guy, it’s not about what individual stats are, it’s all about winning. My main goal, going into my fourth year is, I don’t care about any individual stats, if it comes, I’m thankful for that. But my main goal, my main determination is being in the playoffs.”

In his final 21 games last season, Wall averaged 24.3 points, 8.3 assists and five rebounds and had two of the best performances of his three-year career. He dished out a career-high 16 points and scored 24 points in a win over the Los Angeles Lakers on March 22 and scored a career-high 47 points with eight assists and seven rebounds in a win over Memphis on March 25.

“The way I finished the season, I think that how I can play the rest of my career,” Wall said. “The main thing for me is to put in the time and the work during the summer. I’m just trying to add something new to my game every day. I just can’t wait for my season to start now.”

MORE FROM THE POST ON JOHN WALL

Wizards re-up with their “cornerstone.”

Mike Wise: Wall’s contract is a big deal for the Wizards.

Wizards believe max contract is a risk they have to take.

Wall confident that he can live up to expectations.

Wall faces tough climb for Team USA.

Wall humbled by chance to play for Team USA.

Wall: “I need to be in the playoffs”

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