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Wizards’ John Wall era comes to abrupt end

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After nearly a decade with the Washington Wizards, the organization is moving on from All-Star point guard John Wall. The Wizards have acquired former NBA MVP and nine-time All-Star Russell Westbrook from the Houston Rockets in exchange for Wall and a future lottery-protected first round pick.

“Having the opportunity to acquire a player of Russell’s caliber and character was something that we could not pass up when looking at both the immediate and long-term future of our team,” said Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard. 

“With that said, the decision to part ways with John, one of the greatest players in franchise history, was extremely difficult,” Sheppard continued. “What he has meant to our organization and our community is immeasurable and will not be forgotten.”

Rumors started picking up before the Thanksgiving holidays about the possibility of this trade. Shortly after, news hit that John Wall suddenly wanted out of D.C. More than likely this was a response to hearing that his name was involved in trade talks with the Houston Rockets.

When Wall talked to reporters at his annual Thanksgiving Assist event, he responded with “no comment” when it came to answering trade questions. For someone who is typically open and transparent with media, this was the first sign that there may have truly been trouble in paradise.

Fans were eager to see Bradley Beal and John Wall play together again now that Wall is back from his two-year achilles injury and Beal’s game has excelled. Instead, it will be Russell Westbrook filling in for the duo.

Westbrook holds career averages of 23.2 points, 8.3 assists, 7.1 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 878 career games with Oklahoma City (where he played under Wizards Head Coach Scott Brooks from 2008-15) and Houston. 

Named the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2016-17, he has been one of the league’s most decorated players over the last decade.  He has been named to the All-NBA Team nine times (twice to the First Team, five times to the Second Team and twice to the Third Team) and earned All-Star honors nine times (taking MVP honors twice). 

Westbrook is also one of only two players in NBA history to average a triple-double for an entire season (joining Oscar Robertson and doing so for three straight seasons from 2016-19). 

He averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.6 steals in 57 games last season with Houston to earn All-NBA Third Team recognition. In addition to his on-court honors, Westbrook was named the 2014-15 NBA Cares Community Assist Award winner for his philanthropic work. 

“Russell’s accomplishments and honors on the court speak for themselves, but his drive and will to win are what separate him as a truly unique player,” said Brooks. “As much as I’m looking forward to reuniting with him, I’m equally sad to say good-bye to John.  He is one of the toughest and most gifted players I’ve ever been around and we all wish him nothing but the best moving forward.”

Wall was originally drafted by the Wizards with the first overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft.  He compiled averages of 18.9 points, 9.2 assists and 4.3 rebounds in 541 games. 

The five-time All-Star was named to the All-NBA Third Team in 2016-17 and won the NBA Cares Community Assist Award in 2016.  He leaves Washington as the franchise’s all-time leader in assists and steals.

Besides his success on the court, Wall was committed to the DC community through his annual Back-to-School event, Thanksgiving Assist, and most recently his rent assistance program. His absence will leave a gap in a community that appreciated what he did for them.

This is definitely a trade that will take D.C. fans awhile to digest.