Washington Wizards guard John Wall has been paying close attention to the Eastern Conference since his team was eliminated in the second round by the Indiana Pacers, and he sees something enticing: opportunity.
That's what he told Dave Briggs of the NBC Sports Network's SportsDash with Yahoo! Sports (via NBCSports.com) anyway.
"I'm thinking, why not our time right now?," Wall said.
Why not, indeed.
Wall's optimism is fueled by the steps his Wizards took this past year—steps that included a record above .500 for the first time since the 2007-08 season, a playoff berth and Wall's first All-Star nod. And it also doesn't hurt that the rest of the East's top-end teams will head into the 2014-15 campaign with some level of uncertainty.
The Miami Heat figure to be dominant again if they retain their superstars and add a couple of veterans through roster exceptions, but there's also a chance they grow more vulnerable as age and fatigue finally take their cumulative toll.
The Indiana Pacers can't be counted on for anything these days, and it's difficult to know how this pivotal offseason will affect an already shaky foundation.
And Derrick Rose's Chicago Bulls figure to make another attempt to climb back atop the conference, though we've seen that narrative end up in tragedy before. At this point, it's probably not safe to assume anything about the Bulls, either.
That leaves Wall and his Wizards as—believe it or not—one of the most stable franchises in the East. Plus, they've got the kind of youthful cornerstones in Wall and Bradley Beal that could lead to yet another leap forward next season.
Wall's improved reputation around the league coincides with the differing opinions with regard to the franchise. Trevor Ariza said free agents would be crazy not to consider playing in Washington, and that is largely because of the presence of Wall and his backcourt mate Bradley Beal.
Surveying the East, Wall is right to believe Washington's time is now. The Wizards are ready, and so is their blossoming superstar.
Speaking of "ready," Wall also addressed the NBA's possible age limit increase, which would require players to be two years removed from the graduation date of their high school class before jumping to the Association.
If a guy feels like he's ready and he has an opportunity to get drafted pretty high, you gotta go. But I think some guys know they probably wouldn't have an opportunity to make if they wait until the next year's draft. ... I feel like there shouldn't be two years. If a guy's ready, the NBA shouldn't be able to pick and choose who they feel is ready for the NBA and who's not.
Wall's position makes sense, and it's interesting to note that he approaches the issue from an unusually informed position. He spent a single year at Kentucky before being selected first overall in the 2010 NBA Draft, so he lived with the risk of injury and lost opportunity that a perfunctory year in college posed.
Everything turned out fine for Wall, but he seems acutely sensitive to what could happen to talented players who might not be so lucky. And you can bet he's glad he didn't have to spend a second season on campus.
Wall's max deal kicks in next year, which will bump his annual salary up to $13.7 million—a boost he would have had to wait an extra year to enjoy if he'd entered the league in 2011 instead of 2010.
Good things come to those who wait, but more immediate gratification has its merits, too. Just ask Wall, who'll be raking in serious cash while leading the up-and-coming Wizards to what should be a banner season in 2014-15.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!