A glutton of team want to make a move for Paul George, and Washington Wizards guard John Wall is throwing his team into the ring.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers are just three teams who have been linked to George. Undoubtedly, he’s going to be the NBA’s most talked about player this summer. Now, according to Marc Spears of The Undefeated, the Wizards want to take a crack at the All-Star forward.
“I am talking to some guys — Paul,” said John Wall to Spears before Monday night’s NBA Awards. “I know his ultimate goal of where he wants to be. I’m trying to see if we can make something happen.”
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Washington put together an incredible year after an expectedly slow start. They finished the campaign as the East’s fourth seed with a 49-33 record before falling to the Celtics in seven games in the second round of the playoffs. Wall had his best season to date and was the catalyst of the Wizards’ offense. He’s no longer underrated. After throwing up 23.1 points and 10.7 assists, it’s clear that Wall is an elite player and is easily in the conversation for the best at his position. His ability to push the ball, get into the lane and dish out jaw-dropping assists elevated the play of those around him, and those are the guys who helped take the Wizards to new heights.
The league recognized Wall’s talent and put him on the All-NBA third team (his first selection) in addition to his fourth-straight All-Star appearance.
One of the biggest beneficiaries was Bradley Beal, who eclipsed all expectations with a stellar campaign. Last summer, he got a five-year, $127 million deal. And there was a lot of skepticism. Injuries have plagued Beal since coming into the league, and he plateaued after his rookie season. This year was much different. He played in 75 games while averaging 34.9 minutes a night, and his production was something we’ve never seen before.
Beal improved his scoring average by 5.7 points and finished at 23.1 with a true shooting percentage of 60.4 — he was one of 10 guys to put up at least 20 a night with that clip, according to Basketball Reference. In one short year, he went from a question mark to a borderline star, and he’ll reach that tier if he continues this for another season. Unfortunately, Beal didn’t receive any accolades. He sniffed the All-Star team, but Carmelo Anthony got picked as Kevin Love’s replacement.
Wall knows how good Beal and the rest of his team is. And he’s using that as a selling point to George.
“Look at our team. We are one piece away,” Wall said. “We have the point guard, we have the shooting guard, we have the center, we have the power forward. Our 3-man [Otto Porter Jr.] did great for us. You can’t take nothing away from what he did. But [George] is a guy that can guard LeBron and go back at LeBron. It’s a piece that you’re going to need to win. If you don’t have a guy who can do that, you don’t have a chance. …
“You got to add another star. You got to add another piece. You got to have three guys. And that’s what it’s looking like.”
A big piece of this puzzle is Otto Porter. The 23-year-old plays the same position as George and will hit free agency. This summer is a crucial time because Porter is going to get paid. Both Wall and Porter benefitted equally from each other because of the latter’s ability to shoot, and that’s a skill that came out of nowhere. In his third year, Porter nailed 36.7 percent of his looks from three. That’s not too shabby, but it’s grossly overshadowed by the 43.4 percent clip he put up this year. Overall, Porter converted 51.6 percent of his looks, showing the 29 other teams that he’s not a one-trick pony. However, George is an inarguable upgrade.
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Wall alluded to it, but if you’re constructing a team in the East, you need to look at how they match up with the Cavaliers. Not only does George go out and get buckets, but he’s an elite defender, and LeBron wouldn’t be able to exploit him that easily. By no means does PG stop James, but he slows him down, and LeBron’s averages in playoff games against George are right on par with what he’s been doing for his career:
- 23 games vs. George: 28.3 points, 8.4 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 52.5 percent shooting
- 217 games in total: 28.4 points, 8.9 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 48.5 percent shooting
George hasn’t had the success (7-16), but we’ve never said that one of his Pacers teams were better than the Cavaliers or the Heat.
As enticing as Wall makes it sound, George has been adamant about playing for the Lakers next summer. Essentially, if he were traded somewhere else, he’d be a rental. Going to Washington means they have enough to challenge Cleveland, but, if they lose, George leaves and now the Wizards takes two steps backward because they parted with who knows what in the deal.
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There’s also the chance they make the Finals by beating Cleveland, but that’s unlikely.
You can’t fault Wall for wanting to take a chance. The Wizards are certainly one piece away from being a contender, but is it worth it to have the opportunity at a title for just one season? That’s the decision that the front office would have to make. Regardless of their choice, a Wall-Beal-George trio would be sensational, and it’s hard to think they wouldn’t be able to shake up the NBA — even if it’s just a little bit.
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