Earlier in the day, Wall met with specialist Robert Anderson in Green Bay and later consulted with Wiemi Douoguih, the team’s director of medical services, as well as David Porter, an orthopedic surgeon based in Indianapolis, before finalizing plans for the surgery. He is expected to undergo the operation by Anderson sometime early next week.
Before the Wizards' game against the Charlotte Hornets, Wall wore a walking boot on his left foot inside the Wizards' locker room. Later in the evening as he sat on the team’s bench, however, Wall matched a dark gray suit with a pair of designer shoes. The franchise point guard in street clothes will become a familiar sight as the Wizards play the remaining 45 games without Wall — and just before he becomes a “supermax” player.
Wall’s contract extension will kick in next season with an annual salary starting at $37.8 million. Wall, 28, will be under contract through at least the 2022-23 season.
With the surgery, Wall will join Dwight Howard as the second starter to miss significant time, casting another pall over an already gloomy Wizards season. The shorthanded Wizards ended a three-game losing streak Saturday with a 130-126 win over Charlotte, improving to 14-23, only six games from last place in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s serious,” Coach Scott Brooks said about Wall’s injury, “but he’s been battling this for years.”
Though Wall’s offensive statistics have been comparable to his averages from previous all-star seasons (20.7 points, 8.7 assists, 3.6 rebounds per game), his defensive performance has suffered. According to Synergy Sports, Wall ranks in the 49th percentile of “man” defense in the half court, allowing 0.919 points per possession.
“He’s battled this throughout the year, and we tried to manage it. He’s done a good job of managing it certain games, and certain games it wasn’t as good. But he never, ever complained. Never complained to me,” Brooks said. “I knew. I knew there were games that he wasn’t up to par and he didn’t play as well as he would have liked or move as well as he liked. He didn’t jump or move defensively as well as he liked but he wanted to compete for his team, but it got to the point where we had to make some tough decisions. That’s why he met with a specialist.”
Wall has managed the lingering bone spurs with treatment and rest. He has sat out practices and morning shoot-arounds ahead of games and iced the heel following his night’s work. Even so, Wall said he has experienced more flare-ups than usual this season.
“Some days it’s great. Some days it’s bad,” Wall said Dec. 8 after scoring one point and missing all five of his shots against the Cleveland Cavaliers. “You just got to monitor [it] when it’s good, and when it’s bad don’t try to force the issue and play with that one because it’s kind of hard. You can’t run.
“Other [injuries] you can play through,” Wall explained, “but it’s one of the ones — you can play through it and warm up, but today it just got real hot. It didn’t get no better.”
Wall underwent an arthroscopic debridement procedure in his left knee in January and missed more than two months during the Wizards' playoff chase. Although Washington began its campaign with hopes of improving on last season’s No. 8 playoff seeding and potentially matching up with some of the best in the East, the team has struggled from the beginning.
Howard, who signed a two-year deal including a player option, was never healthy. The team’s best shooters misfired from beyond the arc. The defense could not get in sync. And despite significant changes made this month — two trades, a free agent signing and the promotion of a G League player — the Wizards went into Saturday’s game having lost nine of their past 11. The absence of Wall will place more responsibility on all-star Bradley Beal, who ranks fourth in the NBA averaging 36.6 minutes per game.
“We’re just going to focus on every day. Do your work every day. We’re going to focus on every game. I know it’s different last year,” Brooks said before Saturday’s win. “We didn’t have our starting center out. We didn’t have — Otto [Porter Jr.], I think, is going to miss 10 of 11 games now. [Markieff Morris] is out. But other guys have stepped up. Thomas [Bryant] has stepped up. He’s had some good games — TB. And then [Tomas] Satoransky has stepped up. So everybody is going to have to step up. It’s not just going to be on Brad’s shoulders.”