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By Joseph White, AP Sports Writer
John Wall has missed about one-quarter of the games since he was the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft. He hasn’t been an All-Star. His team hasn’t won more than 29 games in a regular season.
Yet his game — and his team — got considerably better when he returned from an injury last season, and he remains the cornerstone of the Washington Wizards, who took the calculated risk Wednesday of signing the point guard to a contract extension. Two people familiar with the deal say it’s a max deal, worth about $80 million over five years.
The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team’s announcement Wednesday did not reveal financial terms. A news conference will be held Thursday.
“He is the cornerstone of our team,” Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said in the team’s release announcing the extension. “And we have clearly expressed our desire to build around him.”
Wall was the top overall pick in the 2010 draft after playing one season of college basketball at Kentucky, immediately becoming the prime building block for a Wizards club that now has missed the playoffs each of the past five seasons.
He has averaged 16.9 points, eight assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 35.8 minutes during his career, starting 172 of 184 games. Various injuries have caused him to miss an average of 21 games per season, and he appeared in only 42 in 2012-13 because of a stress injury in his left knee cap.
When he returned, the 22-year-old Wall averaged a career-high 18.5 points, along with 7.6 assists, four rebounds and 1.3 steals in 32.7 minutes. He really began to hit his stride late in the season, even showing some signs of developing into an outside shooter. The Wizards went 5-28 without him, 24-25 with him.
If Wall hadn’t been able to reach an agreement with the Wizards this offseason, he would have become an unrestricted free agent in 2014.
In the Wizards’ announcement, Wall said he will do “everything I can to get this team back where it belongs.”