The 2017 NBA free-agency period entered its fourth week on Saturday, but it has felt like an eternity. Beginning with the Jimmy Butler trade on draft night, NBA relocations and rumors have dropped at a steady pace. Yet after the bombshells — including the latest one on Friday from Kyrie Irving, who reportedly asked his team to trade him despite three consecutive trips to the Finals and one championship — a few crucial questions remained. They included: How will Melo get out of New York? How will Cleveland salvage this offseason? And why hasn’t John Wall signed a contract extension yet?
We can cross the last one off the list: On Friday night, John Wall agreed to a four-year, $170 million extension that kicks in when his current contract ends. The deal is the new supermax contract introduced by the new CBA, which gives players incentive to stay with their teams, tilting the balance of free agency toward incumbency. This kind of contract was introduced to prevent another Kevin Durant situation, but the past few weeks made the mechanism seem irrelevant. Gordon Hayward opted for a new team, Paul George is rumored to be intent on getting to Los Angeles, and, while Chris Paul can still sign a massive extension with the Rockets next year, it won’t be the supermax. (My colleague Kevin O’Connor assures me that the money will be roughly the same.)
It’s a classic John Wall move to exercise the option, though. Despite his incredible speed, the way he has improved since entering the league, and the charisma that was on full display during his time at Kentucky, John Wall isn’t one of the biggest names in the NBA. He’s undoubtedly one of the best, demanding fans’ attention despite the fact that point guard talent is abundant in the league. He consistently insists on making his presence felt — by forcing an Eastern Conference slogfest to seven games, by treating the Celtics to a "funeral game," by easily chasing down blocks. He finally has the contract to reflect how good he is. Sure, he already had a max deal, but now he is officially a designated franchise player.
The reciprocal embrace between the Wizards and John Wall couldn’t come at a better time. Washington nearly brought down the Celtics this past season, and with Kyrie seeking a new squad, the Eastern Conference is an open playing field. LeBron remains singular, but continuity and one-team superstars offer their own unique value. San Antonio has been proving this for 20 years. May the John Wall Wizards finally make it to the conference finals.