John Wall's 'supermax' contract just got more expensive

Ben Krimmel
June 30, 2019 - 2:03 pm
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A lot can change in two years. Some things can get better. Some things can get worse. Some things can become more expensive, too.

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And the extension John Wall signed with the Washington Wizards in mid-July 2017 just got more expensive for Washington. 

That summer Wall, who had two year's remaining on a five-year, $85 million deal he signed in 2013, re-upped for an additional four years on a Designated Veteran Player Extension, also known as the supermax. The deal guaranteed Wall 35 percent of the salary cap when the extension began and would escalate by eight percent in each year following. The deal tied Wall to D.C. for the next six years and made Wall the third max contract player on the Wizards following Bradley Beal and Otto Porter

MORE: Wizards add point guard depth in free agency

A lot has changed in the months since Wall signed his extension, which is set to begin this season. A lot has changed with Wall. Like a huge amount has changed. And a whole lot has changed with the Wizards. Oh, a lot, indeed.

And so, with free agency about to begin again, the NBA announced Saturday the 2019-20 salary cap would be set at $109.140 million and the tax level at $132.627 million. We now know the official total of Wall's supermax extension: $171,131,520. 

This means Ted Leonsis and the Wizards will be paying Wall about $1.787 million more than initially projected.

While the deal, based on a percentage of the cap, didn't get any better or worse on Saturday as far as roster construction is considered, this presents a moment to reflect on a real sliding doors moment for the Wizards franchise: What if in the summer of 2017, Wall decided he didn't want to sign an extension in Washington? 

The Wizards offered the all-star guard an extension when free agency began on July 1, but he took several weeks to think it over. Here is the sliding doors moment.

The risk of signing the deal on Wall's part: What if he didn't trust the organization to build a competitive roster? Beal and Porter were under team control through 2020. What if Wall didn't believe that to be the right move?

According to The Washington Post, Wall's signature on the deal signaled he liked where the team was headed. “He wouldn’t have signed it if he wasn’t,” a person familiar with Wall’s thinking told Candace Buckner

And there was a risk on the Wizards part: Is Wall's game, based on explosiveness and speed, going to hold up as the extension begins during Wall's age-29 season? Is there a risk of tying up 35 percent of the cap on a player who hasn't gotten the team past the conference semifinals? 

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During the weeks-long wait, Wall and his representatives, including agent Rich Paul, met with Wizards president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld to discuss a better structure of the contract. The Wizards agreed to give Wall a player option and a 15-percent trade kicker in the supermax.

What if Grunfeld had said no to Wall's demands?

But that's a road not taken. "John is an exceptional talent and a cornerstone for our team," Leonsis said after Wall signed in 2017. "It's John's unique blend of skill and leadership that makes us a championship-caliber team."

Grunfeld had this to say: "We are thrilled that he will continue to lead us through the prime years of his career and look forward to watching as he solidifies his place among the greatest players in our team's history."

Here's The Sports Junkies reacting to Wall signing his extension in July 2017.

"This is what the NBA had in mind when they instituted this supermax for star players," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said at the time. "To keep guys and allow teams to extend these players out over a long period."

The Wizards and Wall committed to each other.

Since signing the extension: Wall has played just 73 games over two seasons and will likely miss the entirety of next season due to a torn Achilles.

"I'm happy I'm coming back another four years to be a Washington Wizard," Wall said in July 2017. "Y'all know what I'm going for. Definitely gonna bring y'all that championship, that's my ultimate goal, and I won't stop till I get it."

A sliding doors moment is now a $171,131,520 payday through 2023.  

Follow @BenKrimmel and @1067theFan on Twitter.

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