The Washington Wizards season is over after falling to the Toronto Raptors Friday night 102-92 in Game 6 of the first round of the NBA Playoffs. For a team that came into the 2017-18 season with high expectations, the Wizards have ended their campaign with a new outlook heading into the summer. There are plenty of holes that need to be fixed and the team’s leader John Wall is not staying quiet about those needs after a frustrating season.
“Just got to add some pieces,” Wall said about the Wizards’ needs per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “A lot, to be honest. There’s a lot that we can use … I think it’s pretty obvious. I don’t need to point it out. I think the way the league is going, you need athletic bigs, you need scoring off the bench, you need all of those types of things. We don’t really have an athletic big. I mean, Ian [Mahinmi] is older. [Marcin Gortat] is older. They’re not athletic guys, but they do the little things that permit their game to help as much as possible.”
Wall targeted his two centers, who collectively made nearly $30 million this season. Gortat has garnered a reputation as a good screener, but beyond that the evolution of the NBA’s bigs has made the 34 year-old obsolete. Mahinmi has struggled with injuries and has yet to provide an impact that the Wizards paid for when they signed him to a four-year deal worth $64 million back in the summer of 2016.
Gortat’s inability to command the glass and defend the more athletic bigs in the league has hurt the Wizards. That issue was never more evident than in Game 6’s loss on Friday. He has one year remaining on his contract and the hope is somehow General Manager Ernie Grunfeld can find a dumping place for a team looking to pick up an expiring contract or include Gortat in some sort of package deal.
Wall and Gortat’s relationship has always been complicated going back to the days of Randy Wittman as Wizards head coach. This season has shined a bigger spotlight on it from the “great ‘team’ win” tweet from the Polish center when Wall was out following knee surgery to Wall saying he gave Gortat the “most spoon-fed baskets” to recently Gortat saying Wall was the best point guard in the NBA when he “plays the right way.”
Wall’s recent barb may be his way of telling the front office he has had enough with Gortat — and Mahinmi.
Wall’s fury didn’t stop with his non-athletic bigs. He added the team needed more scoring off the bench and someone that can create off the dribble besides himself, according to Hughes.
John Wall said an athletic big. bench scoring and someone who can create off the dribble are offseason needs for the Wizards.
— Chase Hughes (@ChaseHughesNBCS) April 28, 2018
The Wizards will have the 15th and 44th picks overall in this summer’s NBA Draft. They are cash strapped with three max contracts on the roster — Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter — but Washington’s front office has to make some splash moves somehow to build a team around Wall and Beal specifically, even if the rest of the roster has to be put on the trade block.