John Wall: Veteran teammates used to think ‘I was a joke’


No moment encapsulates John Wall’s first few years in the NBA like JaVale McGee running back on defense with the Wizards still on offense. Wall was helpless to do anything but cup the ball and shake his head at his teammate’s ridiculousness.

Washington went 72-158 in the three seasons after drafting Wall No. 1, the NBA’s third-worst mark during that span behind only the Bobcats and Cavaliers.

But it wasn’t his fault they brought him in to play with players like McGee, Gilbert Arenas, Andray Blatche and Nick Young. Still, Wall’s reputation took the hit because of his lofty draft status.

There was a real worry the Wizards’ character would rub off on Wall and sabotage his promising career.

Abe Schwadron of Slam on Wall:

He remembers guys like Andre Miller, Drew Gooden and Marcin Gortat being skeptical when they first got to Washington. Until last season, Wall was known as nothing more than an exciting player on a laughable loser.

“They thought I was a joke and that I didn’t take basketball serious,” says Wall. “That’s what they thought looking in from the outside. They were looking at what I was around.”

Meticulously, the Wizards unloaded their clowns, and Wall thrived. He became an All-Star and led Washington deeper into the playoffs than its gone in decades.

Now, he’s routinely recognized as a star, not a “joke.”

Schwadron’s article is a quality look at Wall’s place in the league now, including:

Just listen to his five-year plan: “I see myself being the MVP of the League, being a Finals MVP, winning a Championship for DC, being a multiple All-Star, All-NBA team and hopefully signing another five-year deal in DC. I love playing in DC.”

It’s worth reading in full to learn why Wall’s veteran teammates came around to believing in him – and why he believes in himself.

Report: Cavaliers deliberate as Rockets ready to trade for Corey Brewer


The Cavaliers – despite having LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving – are far from a finished product.

Especially, they need defensive help.

That’s why they pursued Timofey Mozgov from the Nuggets and why they’re interested in Corey Brewer of the Timberwolves.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

There’s probably elements of truth in regards to Cleveland’s thinking, but this just reeks of posturing by Minnesota. There were plenty of leaks during the Love trade saga this summer, and that worked out well for the Timberwolves. There’s little reason to believe wouldn’t try that again.

If there’s truly a good offer on the table from Houston now, why not just take that? I believe the Rockets are more ready than Cleveland to trade, but if they had already made a suitable offer, the deal would be done.

Maybe the Cavaliers have to act quickly if they want Brewer before Houston gets him, but I bet they have a fair amount of time to sort out their priorities and make a compelling offer to Minnesota if they determine that’s what they want to do.

Rumor: Kenneth Faried isn’t loved in Nuggets organization


The Nuggets are a mess, one that makes you think Brian Shaw could be in the firing line next summer, if not before. This was a team first built for George Karl’s high-speed attack that has struggled as Shaw has tried to install a more systematic approach and asked his guys to play more traditional roles.

That includes the team’s biggest star Kenneth Faried, who looked great as an energy guy, a glue guy doing the dirty work for Team USA this summer but isn’t the kind of shot creator you can easily build a franchise around. Except that the Nuggets are paying him like that now — he got a contract extension of four years, $50 million (after the team leaked that it was five years, $60 million, numbers not allowed under the current CBA).

What’s more, Faried is not popular in the locker room reports Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN, in a brilliant piece talking about the Nuggets collapse in recent years.

Several sources around the league insist the Nuggets’ hand was forced with regard to Faried. After the signing of (J.J.) Hickson to a three-year, approximately $16 million contract soon after (GM Tim) Connelly’s arrival, the sense was the bouncy big man was insurance against Faried’s departure in free agency in 2014. Faried was a fan favorite in Denver, but multiple sources with knowledge of the Nuggets’ thinking maintain the team “isn’t crazy about him,” particularly Shaw. But with Faried’s boffo showing last summer with Team USA and a loyal following in Denver, the media-conscious Nuggets caved, adding yet another imperfect 4-man to their lot.

“[Faried] is a helluva player and plays hard, but he isn’t well liked [in the organization],” a league source said. “That gets glossed over. He says crazy s—. He thinks he’s the guy, and other guys take exception to his contract.”

Let the denials from the organization begin in 5…4…3…

Faried and Shaw certainly had a rough start to their relationship, something Faried discussed with ProBaketballTalk a week ago.

“Before, last year, we’d butt heads because certain philosophies he was going with I didn’t want to obey them or abide by them. I wanted to do my own thing and play more minutes. I was frustrated,” Faried said. “But as the season went on, it sucked because guys went down, but we had to come together and click in order for us to win the number of games we won last year.

“It helped a lot going into this year, with me coming back from (Team) USA and the things I did there, he has even more confidence in me and plays me more minutes and make sure I’m on the court to help the team and make an impact.”

Actually Faried’s minutes, points, and efficiency are all down slightly from last season.

That said, in a market where Faried is very popular with the fans — we all love the hustle guy —it is the player that the team’s owners will back over the coach. It almost doesn’t matter what the people in the organization think.

Things are bad in Denver, the 2-7 Nuggets are struggling nightly with a bottom 10 offense and defense. The Knicks just snapped a seven-game losing streak against them. A rash of injuries last season disguised the obvious: When you let GM Masai Ujiri and coach George Karl go, you’re going to take a step backward.

Nuggets’ Gary Harris throws it down hard, his mom missed it (VIDEO)


Don’t take your eyes off Gary Harris — especially you, mom.

During the fourth quarter of a needed road win for the Nuggets, Harris got the ball out near half court, blew past his man, turned the corner and just threw it down over the late-rotating defender. It was a huge throwdown.

And apparently Harris’ mother was texting a friend or doing some people watching or something, but she wasn’t watching her son. She’s going to hear about that one.

Report: Magic could have gotten first-round pick in Arron Afflalo trade


The Magic’s trade of Arron Afflalo for Evan Fournier and the No. 56 pick was one of the most flummoxing deals in recent memory.

Couldn’t Orlando have gotten more for Afflalo, who had just been mentioned as a key piece in potential deals for the No. 1 pick or Kevin Love?

Maybe “more” is in the eye of the beholder

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

It’s unclear what the other parts of such trades would have been. The Magic were reportedly talking Afflalo with the Bulls, who had the Nos. 16 and 19 picks.

But as Lowe alluded, Fournier is thriving. He’s averaging 18.2 points on 51 percent shooting, both from the field and 3-point range.

Meanwhile, Afflalo’s production is way down in Denver. Plus, Fournier is seven years younger and on his rookie contract this season and next.

I thought the Magic could have gotten more for Afflalo than a meager return. Turns out, they did.