StatBox Breakdown: Why is John Wall getting a max contract?

It’s a simple, yet complex decision for the Washington Wizards.

John WallJohn Wall is the team’s unquestioned franchise player. It would be incredibly difficult to replace him and build around someone else. From that standpoint, it makes sense that Washington is locking him up for five years and the maximum $80 million it can give the former top overall pick.

The problem? Wall is nowhere near as good as other point guards given max contracts in recent years. He has to sound confident when he gets a contract like that, so it’s logical that he told The Sporting News that “I feel like I am right up there with the best of them” and that “I feel like when I am healthy, I stack right up there with them. I put myself in that category.”

That’s nice, John. But no one else does.

Well, maybe one other person – Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld, who may be taking his team down a path of financial inflexibility for the last time. Grunfeld’s “negotiation” with Wall has the familiar scent of overpayment of his own players and bidding against himself that has marked his management of the Wizards.

400px-ArenasWizardsIn 2008, he re-signed Gilbert Arenas – who was limited to 13 games by a knee injury in that very season – to a six-year, $111 million contract before the market could set his price at a more affordable rate. In 2010, he re-signed Andray Blatche – an immature player who still had two years remaining on his deal – to a three-year, $24 million contract extension.

Both players were victims of the amnesty clause and are still collecting paychecks from those contracts. Neither is still with the Wizards, and Blatche’s alimony from Grunfeld allowed the Nets to affordably keep him this offseason.

Now Grunfeld appears ready to go down the same path with Wall, who has spent his first three seasons proving beyond a doubt that he is not worthy of a max contract.

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