John Wall contract a big deal for Washington Wizards

The Post Sports Live crew discusses whether the Wizards should give point guard John Wall a max contract. (Post Sports Live)
Mike Wise
Columnist August 1, 2013

By reading my friend and colleague Michael Lee’s story about John Wall’s contract extension, I learned a new word yesterday: hideosity.

The urban dictionary defines it as, “the act of being hideous toward others either for reason of humor or to prove a point.”

Mike Wise is a sports columnist for The Washington Post. View Archive

The point proved, since 2008, is that the Wizards have not just been bad but often comically and bizarrely bad.

When JaVale McGee ran the other way on defense when he was supposed to be on offense or Nick Young shot a layup over the backboard, that was hideosity. When Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton tried to gangsta up the locker room, that was hideosity. Heck, 117-277 the past five years? That’s very deep hideosity.

Thursday was a vote against hideosity and a vote for postseason prosperity.

Wall signing an $80 million deal over five years, ostensibly the most money the fourth-year point guard can be paid for his contract extension, is the best thing team President Ernie Grunfeld has done since recycling the $100 million deals of Arenas and Rashard Lewis.

I am tired of the notion that because Wall has not made an All-Star team, that because the other NBA point guards to sign such deals — Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams — are All-Stars, Wall’s deal is unjustified.

If those players were on the open market and the Wizards had their choice, that’s a great argument. But the concept of “market value” as applied to the NBA — or to sports with salary caps in general — is faulty.

LeBron James isn’t getting market value. Neither is Paul, Westbrook or Rose, under the current collective bargaining agreement between players and owners.

It’s useless to evaluate players on the open market because, as my wise friend from Yale knows, the open market doesn’t exist. Without a salary cap, the open market likely would dictate that Wall would make about what he’s being given with the max deal: He’d make significantly less than the superstars, but surely he’d be given a large amount of money to stay in the District.

Wall is worth it and then some. He showed when he returned from injury last season to a 4-28 team headed further toward the abyss that he’s the engine that makes the organization go on the court. To determine his worth through comparison to the deals of other players in the league does not make sense because an artificial barrier alters players’ worth.

Yes, it’s a monstrous gamble: the third-largest contract in team history, behind Arenas’ and Juwan Howard’s $100-million-plus deals never paid the dividends that Abe Pollin dreamed.

But Ted Leonsis should rest easy on this one. The owner made sure he locked up one of the most competitive souls in not just the NBA but in all of sports — a guy determined to learn and grow into a premier playoff attraction alongside Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and a cast that should only get better and deeper.

The men on the hook for this deal are Grunfeld and Randy Wittman, who both go into this season with expiring contracts as the GM and coach.

Wall is playing for their future as well as his own, and any major letdown that translates to the record and another lottery-bound season means the almost-certain end of the Grunfeld era.

I don’t see it happening any time soon. I think a healthy Wall makes the Wizards a playoff team this season and at least a second-round team by May 2015.

This is a good day for the Wizards. They rewarded a player they believe will make them a perennial playoff team after not sniffing the postseason for five years.

Wall just guaranteed financial security for himself and, hopefully, his children’s children. Heck, I know J. Reid is ecstatic how much more body art can be purchased with $80 million.

That’s not hideosity, baby; that’s beauty.

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