John Wall ruptured his left Achilles tendon after slipping and falling in his home, the Wizards announced Tuesday — a major setback for the star point guard.
Wall will need surgery and he’s expected to be out for a year or more. The 28-year-old was already out for the season after undergoing heel surgery last month.
Dr. Wiemi Douoguih, the Wizards director of medical services, discovered the rupture Monday while cleaning a post-op infection Wall developed after the Jan. 8 operation.
On a conference call with reporters, Dougoguih said Wall slipped and fell Jan. 29 when he was about to head into a shower. The doctor added an initial check following the fall did not reveal a tear, only for it be discovered when he went in to clean the infection.
Dr. Robert Anderson, who performed the heel surgery, will repair Wall’s Achilles tendon in Green Bay, Wisconsin, but that cannot be scheduled until the infection clears. Douoguih said the operation will likely happen next week.
As for Wall’s recovery, Douoguih said it’s early to tell if the five-time All-Star will return next season.
“We’re going to try and stick by the timeline,” Douoguih said. “When everything gets closer, we’ll see where John is functionally and whether he is able to compete next year or not, that’s going to be a combined decision between the team, coaching staff and the medical staff.”
Looming over this surprise setback is Wall’s upcoming four-year, $170 million extension. Wall will make $37.8 million next year and his annual salary increases every year until the deal expires in 2023. That’s a massive amount to pay to a player who’s had multiple surgeries and whose speed is a key element of his game.
But the deal was seen as a win for Wall and the franchise when signed in July 2017.
Coming off a promising second-round defeat to the Boston Celtics months earlier, Wall was the rare NBA superstar who agreed to stay home in an era of near-constant player movement. For the Wizards, who drafted Wall first overall in 2010, the extension was the cornerstone around which a championship-worthy roster was to be assembled.
The last two years, though, have been a disaster for Wall and the Wizards.
Last season, Wall missed 41 games after undergoing knee surgery and returned to a team that was eventually bounced from the first round in the playoffs.
T his season, Wall wasn’t right from start. Clips of him standing still on multiple offensive and defensive possessions spread on the internet, and in general, Wall seemed like he lacked the explosiveness he’s shown throughout his career. As this was happening, the Wizards got off to a rocky start, floundering well outside the playoff picture.
It was later revealed that Wall had been dealing with bone spurs in his left heel, which he said explained why he wasn’t moving as often off the ball. On Dec. 29, Wall saw a foot specialist who recommended season-ending surgery. Wall took the advice and was projected to miss the next 6-8 months.
Ironically, Wall told reporters he opted for surgery in part to avoid tearing his Achilles, a more serious injury.
Wall averaged 20.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 8.7 assists in 32 games this season.
Moving forward, the Wizards are determined to still make the playoffs without Wall. In order to do so, they’ll need to start gaining ground. A 137-129 loss Monday to the Atlanta Hawks dropped them nine games under .500 and three back of the Miami Heat for the eighth seed.
In theory, Washington could add another player to help offset Wall’s absence. The Wizards were granted an $8.6 million disabled player exception two weeks ago and have until March 11 to use it.
But the Wizards are already paying the luxury tax, making it unlikely Washington will add another big salary to their bill. The team will rely on Tomas Satoransky to start at point guard the rest of the season.
Long-term, the Wizards’ biggest question becomes if Wall can get back to the same type of player that made him a star in the District.
“There’s no way to tell,” Douoguih said. “I think our focus right now is performing an excellent surgery, getting John’s tendon reattached and then going through the rehab program. I don’t think we can say. Fortunately, we don’t have a whole lot of data on elite NBA level point guards with tendon ruptures.
“John is an unusual specimen because of his talent, his abilities and the demands placed on his body, so we’ll just have to wait and see.”