Things were looking up for the Wizards. They really were.
The final pillar of the Gilbert Arenas era had fallen as Andray Blatche was dishonorably discharged from the team that once believed he could be an elite forward in the league. It was the final step in a long and expensive cleansing process.
Free at last, free at last.
Per collective bargaining rules, the Wizards had a one-week window to amnesty Big 'Dray Blatche, and sure enough they waited the entire week to pull the trigger on the clause. Perhaps they needed the time to deliberate over such a substantial financial decision, or perhaps they just wanted him to sweat a little for all the times that he did not sweat during the regular season. But all told, $23 million was what it cost the Wizards to ensure that the coming year would be nothing like the previous decade.
It was a small price to pay for a little peace of mind.
And while this was a sad day for D.C. area strip clubs and prostitutes, it was a monumental one for Wizards fans everywhere. Gilbert Arenas, Nick Young, JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche would no longer be able to torment local hoops fans with their parody basketball act. For fans in Washington, it was a time for jubilation. They no longer had to shoulder the yolk of the Gilbert Arenas era. At last there was legitimate cause for hope in the capital of the free world.
Well, that was until John Wall suffered a stress fracture in his knee. He is scheduled to miss at least eight weeks.
Any (and all) emotional momentum that the Wizards and their fans had luxuriated in during the offseason was stolen away by this devastating news. The future of the team was wholly invested in the success of John Wall. This was his year. This was their year. John Wall was to take the reins of superstardom and lead his team into the playoffs—or, at the very least, provide them with some semblance of hope. This season was hinged on John Wall, and John Wall, quite literally, was hinged on his knee. Both were fractured before you could say the word "lottery."
One more year of waiting for next year.
What remains of the Wizards are some nice pieces but no glue to keep them together. Bradley Beal is touted to be the next Ray Allen—and he may very well be—but he isn't that just yet. Nene is good, but this year has the feel of one of those shut-him-down type of seasons. Trevor Ariza is, sadly, still Trevor Ariza, and the same goes for Emeka Okafor.
It's bleak. Very bleak.
The story in Washington should be one of new beginnings, but instead it's the same old narrative: disappointment and unfulfilled expectations. Fans in D.C. are tired of being cautiously optimistic. They want something tangible. They need hope. Something. Anything. Just not this.
For now and indefinitely thereafter, they will wait. It remains to be seen if the wait will ever be worth it.