Did anyone tell Wall?
In his final days with Washington, Wall issued a telling no comment when asked whether he requested a trade. Since dealt to the Rockets for Russell Westbrook (with such negotiations reportedly initially sparking his trade request), Wall is unloading now.
Wall, via NBC Sports Washington:
“Most importantly, all I really wanted from the start of all of it was just to be told the truth. That’s the most important thing and what made it so hard for me to understand what was going on because I wasn’t told the truth. I understand it’s a business and things go on and people move on and you get traded, organizations in different ways. When I heard the rumors, I called and asked are these true or are these something not to worry about? From that day forward, all I heard was ‘no, those rumors aren’t true, don’t worry about it.’ In all reality, it was true,” Wall said.
I just wish I would have known up front and not have to beat around the bush to figure things out. That’s just my motivation there. They thought I was done. Basically, that’s how I feel. This is my opportunity to show them that I’m not done.
“Just seeing everybody that’s over there, a lot of people that’s on that side that probably didn’t believe I could come back to be the person I am. And probably some people that had a little say so into me being traded,” Wall told Miller.
But did Beal want to wait any more for Wall to get back to where he was before the injuries? Did he believe Wall was as diligent about his rehab as he could have been? Did he want to go back to a supporting, catch-and-shoot role, which seemed inevitable even as Wall professed he’d play differently with Beal going forward, seeing how Beal’s game had grown the last two years?
The Wizards have a mandate to win around Beal while Beal – who has proven his loyalty to Washington – remains in his prime. Wall hadn’t played the last two seasons, occupied significant cap space on his super-max contract and is now on the wrong side of 30. Whatever you think of his training regimen, Wall was a major impediment to the Wizards.
That’s not blaming Wall. Injuries are unfortunate. But that was reality.
So, trading Wall and a protected first-round pick for Westbrook made sense at the time – and maybe even still. Wall has cooled after a hot start and recently missed five games due to injury. Maybe Westbrook will play better after struggling through his own injury
But it’s not Wall’s role to accept the cold logic of the situation. He can use any slights – real or perceived – as motivation as he sees fit.
Ideally, Wall wouldn’t throw anyone under the bus who doesn’t deserve it. Players are often bothered when traded, regardless of circumstance. Citing a problem with only the process, not the trade itself, can be a way to garner sympathy rather than accurate reflect the situation. Washington’s front office could present a different version of events.
That said, Sheppard lost some benefit of the doubt with his public denials before the trade.