Washington Wizards guard John Wall will be the sixth-highest paid player in the NBA next season, as the max extension that he signed with the Wizards back in 2017 is finally set to kick in. As a comparison point, Wall is slotted to make more than guys like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George in 2019-20.
Due to the massive size of the contract, Washington's lack of postseason success with Wall at the helm, and the fact that Wall is sidelined for the foreseeable future with a ruptured Achilles, the contract has been heavily criticized and is widely viewed as one of the worst in the entire NBA.
Wall has heard the criticism, but instead of giving in to it, he has decided to use it as motivation moving forward as he aims to prove that he was worth the contract that the Wizards gave him; a contract that he feels he deserved.
"It fuels me," Wall said of the contract criticism, via an interview with The Athletic. "The 2016-17 [season] was my best year. [I averaged] 23 [points] and 11 [assists]. John Wall is a top-two point guard. I get injured. John Wall is not a top-five point guard? Now, because I'm injured, I can't defend myself. Now I've got the worst contract ever? That's fine. I deserved that contract.
"My whole mindset is – it's in my notes – I didn't deserve it? When I come back, I'm going to show them I earned it. I never want a handout. I always worked for mine. A lot of guys got a lot of stuff that's given. Never made McDonald's All-American. Took national player of the year away from me when I was in college. OK, I'm the No. 1 pick. I'm going to prove myself. You get the hype. I look back at it. My '09 class in high school, I can only name probably nine guys in the league. Out of my draft class, it's maybe eight guys in the league. It is what it is."
Wall might have a bit of a chip on his shoulder at this point in his career, but that doesn't mean that he plans to ask for a trade from Washington.
"Never will you hear me ask for a trade. The only way I'm going to get traded from D.C. is if they want to trade me themselves," Wall said. "And that's one thing I think the fans will appreciate if they ever get to that point. I'm never one of those guys that want to chase a ring or do those things. I've told people this before. You win a ring; nobody is going to talk about that years down the road. But if you build a legacy in a place, that's going to go on for a long time."
At one point, Wall was one of -- if not the -- quickest and most explosive guards in the entire league. However, now that he's approaching 30 and coming off of a serious injury issue, the questions regarding his contract -- and future -- are legitimate. But one of the best things about sports is the opportunity it provides to prove people wrong, and Wall will have the opportunity to do just that when he ultimately returns to action.