Paul Pierce, who filled the vocal, veteran leadership role and hit his share of big shots for the Wizards during his one season in Washington, fully supported his former teammate’s comments.
“I love the fact that he came out,” Pierce, who retired in 2017, said Monday during a conversation with host Rachel Nichols and NBA writer Kevin Arnovitz on ESPN’s “The Jump.” “A leader should say that. Obviously, John is a superstar. He’s a superstar point guard. Guys need to know their role. Obviously, this is Bradley Beal and John’s team — they’re the all-stars, so I respect him coming out and saying that. I’m sure he probably said that to a number of guys throughout the season. When you see guys who want more than their role, and it doesn’t work out for the team, then as a leader, you should speak on it, and I respect John for that.”
Arnovitz then compared the Wizards, who have three players in Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. signed to max contracts, to the Clippers’ former trio of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, who also failed to advance past the second round of the playoffs during their time together.
“You cannot identify which one of the three is a problem because they all have really great skills, and yet it just somehow doesn’t come out of the oven right every season,” Arnovitz said of the Wizards’ core. “We never have that, ‘Do we blow it up in Washington?’ kind of question. Whether to continue on a path or not is the great question a franchise has to make, and we haven’t had that conversation of like, do you trade Beal or [Otto] Porter?”
Oh, but we have had that conversation. Recently. On the same show. Less than two weeks ago, after Washington dropped the first two game of its series in Toronto, Pierce suggested that it might be time for the Wizards to split up their all-star backcourt.
“Let’s just say these two do get past this series,” Pierce said of Beal and Wall before Game 3 in D.C. “For them not to break up, they would have to get to the conference finals. If they don’t get to the conference finals, I do believe that a major change has to happen. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out and you have to move on and maybe start all over or see what you can get for your talent.”
The Wizards, of course, did not get to the conference finals, and haven’t been there since 1979. After Washington won two games at Capital One Arena to make it a series before losing in six games, Pierce has apparently changed his mind about how the Wizards should go about reshaping their roster this offseason.
“I do think you keep the all-stars together,” Pierce said. “You have to build. Look at Toronto. They have their two all-stars. They kept them together and they continued to build around them and got deeper. That’s what Washington has to do. They have to get more depth. They had [Bojan] Bogdanovic last year that was huge for them that came off the bench. They didn’t have that reliable guy off the bench this year. It was supposed to be Kelly Oubre. … They need to add more depth around these guys. Maybe mix in a few starters, trade a couple starters, but they definitely need to keep the core together because they could be on the right path, just a little bit of tweaking, that’s all.”
As The Post’s Candace Buckner explains, tweaking this Wizards roster won’t be easy. With all sorts of money tied up in three traditional centers and little cap space to spend in free agency, a major trade or two might be the best route to improving the team.
“It’s just figuring out what pieces we can add to our team, what guys can stay and what guys can go,” Wall said Saturday.
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