John Wall opened up about his departure from Washington on Saturday, saying the organization lied to him by telling him he was not on the trade block before shipping him to Houston.
“I felt like I deserved the honesty and respect because I’ve been there for 10 years. I’ve been through the bad times, when we had shitty teams and when we had good teams in D.C.,” Wall said. “I never turned my back on the organization. I played through damn near every injury that a lot of people wouldn’t have played through. I played through broken hands in the playoffs. I think I did everything I could and gave everything I had, heart and soul to the organization on and off the court.
“Then everybody kept telling me, ‘No, it’s not true. Don’t believe it. Don’t believe it.’ And I’m like, I know Houston probably called them first. But it’s part of the business. Why wouldn’t you call if somebody wants to be traded? You know what I mean? And it’s not nothing, just having conversations. And that’s all I wanted. If you’re having conversations, that’s cool, I get it. Nobody could ever tell me the truth about it.”
Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard told reporters there were "no plans" to trade Wall in a Nov. 23 press conference. Washington then traded Wall and a 2023 lottery-protected first-round pick to Houston for Russell Westbrook two weeks later.
While it's not uncommon for an organization to tell a player one thing and then change their mind, Wall spent a decade in Washington and was a beloved perennial All-Star before injuries derailed his career. Prior to suffering a ruptured Achilles during the 2018-19 season, he had made five straight All-Star teams and was an All-NBA selection in 2016-17.
Most, including Wall and Bradley Beal, expected the Wizards to give the backcourt duo at least another season before breaking them up. Wall's contract seemingly made him untradeable, and the Wizards still had time to right the ship before considering moving on from Beal and beginning a full-scale rebuild.
Washington chose to prioritize retaining Beal by moving Wall for Westbrook, who they hoped would be a better (and healthier) fit. The results have not been there, however, with the Wizards currently sitting in last place in the Eastern Conference.
Wall is set to play his first game back in D.C. as a visitor Monday.