The games meant nothing and the defense was mostly non-existent, but John Wall and Kevin Durant got to experience what it would be like to play with each other during the NBA lockout in 2011. In that delayed offseason, Wall and Durant teamed up for five exhibition games and combined to score 420 points as the pair went 3-2.
Back then, the possibility of Wall, the Wizards’ best player, and Durant, the District’s best homegrown talent, ever being teammates in the NBA existed only in some far-fetched fantasy. The odds of such a pairing still appear to be a long shot, but that won’t stop Wall from making an early pitch to Durant before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2016.
Wall and Durant both share the same trainer, Rob McClanaghan, and worked out together a few times last summer in Los Angeles. Wall didn’t deny that has already started planting seeds about Durant playing in Washington.
“I throw a little slick shots here and there,” Wall said on Friday with a laugh. “Try something.”
Though Durant hasn’t offered any hints – at least publicly – that he would be interested in leaving Oklahoma City, the three-time scoring champion will surely be the most sought-after free agent in two summers.
The Wizards could be positioned well to make run. As it stands, Wall is the only player who is under contract for a fully guaranteed deal that summer. Bradley Beal will be a restricted free agent if he hasn’t already signed a four-year extension. Martell Webster has a non-guaranteed contract worth $5.8 million and Otto Porter Jr. would be owed $5.9 million if the Wizards decide to pick up the fourth year of his rookie-scale deal.
Brooklyn, New York and the Los Angeles Lakers could also have cap space lined up to chase after Durant.
Wall once said that he isn’t a recruiter and doesn’t plan to beg anyone to play with him, but he might have to make an exception for Durant, the front-runner for the league’s most valuable player award this season. Durant had a string of 12 consecutive 30-point scoring games snapped on Friday in Brooklyn, where the Thunder extended its winning streak to 10 games. The 6-foot-11 Durant currently leads the league in scoring (31.2 points), player efficiency rating (31.1) and win shares (12.4).
“Our main thing is focusing on team but you look at those things and see when opportunities can come to try to make your team better, and fit in,” Wall said.
Durant said he didn’t have any interest in playing for the Wizards when asked four years ago, before the team had drafted Wall, now a first-time all-star, and Beal, a rising young player in the league. Durant appeared on Spike Lee’s new Sirius XM NBA Radio show this week and didn’t sound like someone who was looking to leave Oklahoma City. “I love playing there,” he said. “The city fits me. I’m one of those guys that just likes to chill. That’s exactly how the town is. The people are supportive. The fans are there all the time at the games. Every game feels like it’s a sellout. They just support us so much.”
The Wizards (22-23) will have their hands full trying to claim a season split on Saturday against the Thunder, which defeated Washington, 106-105, in overtime on Nov. 9. Durant had 33 points in the win, including a three-pointer over Trevor Ariza as time expired. Oklahoma City has won 10 straight despite being without all-star point guard Russell Westbrook.
“I think he’s MVP leader right now in the league right now,” Wall said of Durant. “With that type of player, he’s definitely getting his points but you just want to make it tough, make it uncomfortable, make him take a lot of shots. And it’s not just him. You’ve got guys in Reggie Jackson, Serge Ibaka, Jeremy Lamb. Those guys are playing pretty good this season. We feel like we owe them one when we gave the game away in OKC, so we just got to come out with a lot of effort.”