John Wall contract making Wizards GM vacancy less attractive

Chris Lingebach
April 12, 2019 - 5:47 pm

The Washington Wizards finally have a clear path to rebuild, with Ernie Grunfeld out of the way and John Wall out potentially for another season.

But it could be Wall's contract -- his 4-year, $169.3 million supermax extension kicks in next season -- that prevents the Wizards from landing a top evaluator. During a 106.7 The Fan appearance Friday, ESPN's Brian Windhorst was asked where the Wizards' job opening ranks among other GM vacancies in the NBA.

"You could probably talk to five or six GMs and get wide-ranging opinions," Windhorst said. "The thing about it is, Ted Leonsis' reputation is really good out there amongst the GMs because his willingness to back his guy. Now, I know he was criticized heavily for sticking with Ernie, but that willingness to stick with him makes him an attractive guy to work for.

"If they didn't have the John Wall contract hanging around the neck of the franchise," he said, "I think it might be the best job. Even with it, it's a really good job. They paid Scott Brooks a lot of money, too, which leads you to believe that he's willing to pay his GM a lot of money. Because that's one thing. Sometimes there's good jobs, but they're not going to pay for them."

"The Wizards, if they want, could probably pick off a sitting GM," he continued. "The number one guy to think about there would be (Nuggets President of Basketball Operations) Tim Connelly, because it's an attractive job."

"You know, another thing about Ted that I'll say when I talk with owners and with other GMs out there, they like him because he's curious. And what I mean by that is he invests in things. The Wizards have been at the forefront of a couple of things. They were at the forefront of using virtual reality technology. That's not to say that it works, but he's willing to invest in things to help the team, but he's not overbearing. He doesn't breathe down your neck."

"I think Ted ranks really high as a guy you want to work for," he added. "It's a great city to live in. I don't know if it's really a free agent destination. I guess you have the possibility down the line. But it's an attractive job."

One name you can cross off the Wizards' wishlist for their GM opening is former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin, who is taking over as president of basketball operations for the Pelicans.

Windhorst believes the Wizards made clear by trading Otto Porter mid-season that they're heading down the path of a semi-rebuild, at the very least, and doesn't like their chances of bouncing back to the top of the Eastern Conference any time soon. Bradley Beal's contractual future could have a lot to do with it.

"The big, big question is if Bradley Beal makes All-NBA," he said. "Which, guys, I submitted my ballot today. It's one of the most important votes I've ever cast, because I'm aware of the financial implications. Bradley Beal was on my All-NBA ballot today on third team. And talking to people around the league, I think he's got a good shot at making it."

If Beal does make his first All-NBA team, he would be eligible to sign a supermax extension, just as Wall did two years ago. To give you an idea of the scope of that, Beal, with two years left on his current deal, will make an average of $27.9 million per season as it stands. Wall over each of the next four years will average $42.3 million starting in 2019-20. To have two supermax contracts on the books would be an astronomical salary cap burden.

"And so that means, are you willing to extend Bradley Beal at four years and $190 million, to give him basically a similar contract to John Wall?" Windhorst went on. "If Bradley Beal makes the All-NBA team and doesn't get that contract offer, you're basically saying you're gonna trade him. If he does get it, you're basically saying you're committing to him long term and you're committing to be a (luxury) taxpayer.

"The problem is, I mean with those two guys under those kind of contracts, I don't know what you can do flexibility-wise. It's a real, real hard decision, and I would imagine when the general manager candidates come in and meet with Ted, that that's gonna be a major strategy discussion."

"Do you keep and lock in Bradley Beal, who's a great player," he said, "but not the type of player that I think the supermax was really designed for, to be flat honest with you. I want him on my team, but I don't think he can lead you to the promised land. I think you want him as your number two."

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