LAS VEGAS — When the Washington Wizards pounced on the opportunity to ensure point guard John Wall remained in the District long-term with a five-year, $80 million contract extension two summers ago, some wondered whether it was a wise investment. Up to that point, injuries had stymied Wall’s career. He hadn’t stayed on the floor enough to fulfill his potential and the Wizards were among the NBA’s cellar dwellers.
That second-guessing is now absurd in retrospect. Wall has remained healthy the past two seasons — he’s missed just six of 185 regular season and playoff games — and has developed into one of the sport’s best point guards. He is a two-time all-star and has led the Wizards to the second round of the playoffs two consecutive campaigns after a five-year drought.
His contract, instead, is a bargain given the bloated free-agent market that materialized this summer thanks to the incoming television money boom. And Wall isn’t shy to let it be known.
“Man, everybody talking about me getting $80 million and you got people getting $85 and $90 million that ain’t been an all-star or anything like that,” Wall said during the Wizards’ summer league win over the Dallas Mavericks at Thomas and Mack Center on Tuesday. “I guess they came in at the right time. The new CBA kicked in at the right time. That new CBA kicked in and they’re good now. Like, Reggie Jackson gets five years, 80. Like, I’m getting the same amount as Reggie Jackson right now.”
Jackson, a shoot-first point guard, was one the many players to benefit from the market’s unprecedented funds. A year ago, Jackson was a backup and reportedly rejected a four-year, $48 million offer from the Oklahoma City Thunder. He later requested a trade and was shipped to the Detroit Pistons. He finished the year in Detroit then the Pistons, to the shock of many, elected to give him $80 million over five years.
Jackson averaged 17.6 points in 27 games with the Pistons and is slated play alongside fellow point guard Brandon Jennings in the back court. Wall averaged 17.6 points per game last season to go with 10 assists per contest, good for second in the NBA, and was voted an all-star game starter for the first time.
“I can’t control it. That’s what happens,” Wall said. “But I’m happy for those guys. To see anybody get the opportunity to live their dream out and take care of their family when they can, that’s a blessing. So I’m happy for those guys.”