You can’t lose John Wall. Not now. Not if the Wizards want the continuity and growth in the organization they continue to espouse.
Not if the Wizards plan on making Washington a genuine destination for primo free agents in two summers, when the team has enough money to lure a significant player.
Not if they plan on decreasing the overall value of their current roster, which began the season 5-28 before their gazelle of a point guard rehabilitated a balky knee and got them running and winning again.
I’m not saying this 18-15 run since Wall has been back — which represents the fifth-best record in the Eastern Conference during that time, through Tuesday night — and a measly player of the week award change the fact that the team is headed to the NBA lottery for the fifth straight year.
But I am saying John Wall and Bradley Beal are the biggest parts of the solution toward returning to the postseason and genuinely mattering again as a franchise. And if there is an opportunity to ensure one stays four months from now, well, the team needs to seize it.
I know. When the good basketball fans of the District hear a Wizards point guard with a creaky knee could be re-signed to a maximum contract extension, many break out in hives and mentally go straight to 2008: “Gilbert Arenas, $111 million over six years.”
And that’s just not fair to Wall, who expressed his desire to The Post’s Michael Lee for the Wizards to re-sign him this summer to a deal that could total $85 million over five years.
First, Wall is a mere 22 years old, four years younger than Arenas was at the same time he signed a deal that team president Ernie Grunfeld came to rue within a year.
Also, if Wall’s body holds up the final month of this season, he would have shown a physical durability that Arenas hadn’t before multiple knee surgeries (and a criminal prank that became a felony conviction en route to his departure.)
Bottom line: They were different players at different junctures of their careers before the organization thought about committing long-term.
Besides, exorbitant amounts of money camouflage a player’s real value to his particular team.
The old, “Is he worth a max deal?” is such a subjective question. Given a season or so of hindsight, were Roy Hibbert, Deron Williams, Rudy Gay, Joe Johnson and Amare Stoudemire worth max contracts? No. But in each case the team that either kept them or acquired them was forced to offer that kind of deal for their services at the time.
Hardly anything economically is relative in these debates except whether the Wizards believe John Wall is worth that to them. And they do, according to numerous people in the organization.