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John Wall awkwardly attempts to deal with questions about James Harden's future

For The Win logo For The Win 12/6/2020 Chris Korman
John Wall wearing a uniform © Provided by For The Win

John Wall met with the media in Houston on Sunday, as the NBA begins practicing and moves toward a return to play later this month.

This gave Wall an occasion to confirm that he had no desire to leave D.C. or the Wizards, and in fact had remained committed to both. That’s a powerful moment, and we’ll get to it in a bit.

What was probably more interesting — if not actually revealing — is what Wall had to say about Rockets star James Harden, who missed practice due to COVID-19 protocols after recently attending the birthday party of Lil Baby, where he lavished the rapper with gifts.

According to Wall, he and Harden have talked, and The Beard truly wants to stay in Houston — despite reports that he’s unhappy and would prefer a trade.

Ah, yeah, Me and James had a great talk since I’ve been traded here. We’ve been friends way before this. What’s going on right now, it’s because of the testing protocol, and things like that. We’re gonna figure out what’s the best decision when he wants to get here, and be here. We’ve been on the same page since I’ve been traded here.

For sure. That was the main reason why, talking through this whole process of what was going to happen with this trade, if it happened or did not happen. One of the reasons was we wanted to play together. I have high ability and 100 percent effort that he wants to be here and be a part of this organization, see what happens with this team and see where we can go.

Wall, of course, is in a tough spot here. He wants this press conference to be positive and he’s not about to dig in on whatever is really going on behind the scenes. But if Harden was truly dedicated to being with the Rockets, he would have adhered to the protocols put in place to ensure he could practice. Which means quarantining instead of traveling over the last week or so.


Gallery: 6 things the Wizards can do to get themselves out of this mess (SMG)

Earlier in the day, new Houston coach Stephen Silas admitted he hadn’t spoken with Harden and was cryptic when asked about Harden’s commitment to the team:

Harden, for what it’s worth, did offer … well, it’s not clear what, exactly. He posted this to his Instagram not long after Wall’s comments began filtering out.

A grimace could mean anything, of course. But the timing also can’t be ignored.

Back to Wall, though, who is trying to rebuild his career after a series of injuries and a trade out of a city he truly loved — and that loved him (read this piece from Mike D. Sykes if you don’t understand that.) Here’s how he responded to a question about making the decision to leave D.C.

[The decision] wasn’t never mine. My heart and my soul was with the organization. The hard work and dedication and sacrifice I made the last two years was with that organization. My whole mindset coming back from Miami from working out in the summer was to get back to D.C. and prepare myself for a season. I never thought this would happen. It’s a part of business. It’s a part of life. God throws his toughest battles to his strongest people. All I did was put the work in and left it in God’s hands. This is the next step that He wanted for me and the chapter He has for me. And all I can do as a young man is embrace this and move forward with life.

Wall has been a sublime player when healthy and surrounded with anything nearing a decent supporting cast. His prime is probably behind him but it’s long past time he get a chance to be part of well-constructed team that isn’t constantly roiled by drama. It looks like he won’t get that chance any time soon, though.

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