If the Washington Wizards have any chance at winning their first championship in 41 years next season, John Wall believes that improving the roster starts this offseason by getting rid of the players who do not want to be on the team. In his exit interview, Wall didn’t name anyone in particular but claimed that when the chips were down, it was easy to pick out who deserved to be on the team going forward.
“I just think you can kind of tell when guys, when things are going well, everybody is happy, everybody wants to be here," he said, per ESPN. "But when things get rough, that is when you really figure out who is your brother, who is really in the war with you, who is really in the fight with you. I think anybody can see from the outside -- or the inside looking in -- who really wanted to be here when things weren't going great for us, but when it is all happy go jolly, and we are winning, it is all fun and games."
When asked to name areas that need to be addressed, Wall brought up the idea of getting an “athletic big” on the roster. “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,” he said, according to CBS Sports. “We don't really have an athletic big. I mean, Ian [Mahinmi] is older. [Marcin Gortat] is older.” The mere implication that the team needs to move away from Gortat may only cause a bigger rift that has been bubbling under the surface.
When Wall was forced to miss an extended period after undergoing knee surgery, the Wizards seemed to turn their season around in his absence, which led to Gortat posting a tweet where he accentuated the “team” aspect of one victory in particular.
The tweet appeared to be a not-so-subtle swipe at Wall, his attitude and style of play which can sometimes halt ball movement. Wall fired back in an interview on ESPN, claiming Gortat gets "the most spoon-fed, easiest baskets" because of him.
Their back-and-forth came less than a month after Dallas Mavericks point guard J.J. Barea alleged that Wall's teammates don't like him after the Wizards point guard used a derogatory term when referring to Barea. "Now I have somebody in the NBA that I don’t like. That’s my first," he said. "I don’t like him at all now. But I don’t think his teammates like him, either. So it’s nothing new for him."
By putting his teammates out on the chopping block in his exit interview, Wall may have only created an even more divided locker room. Now, the question is, if you're trying to change the team culture, and Wall is the main problem, how should Wizards' front office go about addressing this problem?