John Wall is doing his best to keep a positive attitude, but one look at his face makes it clear he’s just dying to be on the court.
The Wizards began training camp Tuesday morning at George Mason University, and their injured point guard was sitting on a chair on the sidelines, an almost pained expression on his face.
Wall knows as well as anyone that the third year is often a make or break year for an NBA player, especially a point guard, and he’d give anything to be on the court running plays right now, establishing an even stronger leadership role than ever.
All that will have to wait. The good news is he’s walking just fine and isn’t wearing a knee brace. If all goes well during his rehab, he should only miss the first ten games of the regular season.
In the meantime, it’s a point guard by committee situation for the Wizards. We have Shelvin Mack, who backed up Wall last year. We have Jordan Crawford, who spelled Wall on occasion bringing the ball up court and running plays when the two were on the court at the same time.
We have A.J. Price, late of the Indiana Pacers, and we have the newly arrived Janero Pargo late of the Chicago Bulls, who was signed on Monday. Pargo arrived in time to participate in Monday’s media day, but not in time for the Wizards to get him a jersey with his name on it. Pargo plans to wear No. 7.
Wizards coach Randy Wittman may not be happy about not having Wall, but he knows how to work with what he’s got from his crew of backups.
“He’s played in the league, he’s got experience he can shot the ball,” Wittman said of Pargo.
“Those are three characteristics we thought were important to try to find in somebody because we have Shelvin, who’s young, and A.J. Price. That was my No. 1 concern with trying to find somebody that quickly in the open market. It was a great situation not only for him but for us.”
The job of a point guard is to be the coach on the floor, and Wittman has made his expectations clear to his new floor generals.
“As I told all three of them when they came in here, I’m not looking for anything different than why we brought them in here,” Wittman said. “They are who they are and they don’t need to come in and be somebody different now that John is out.”
“That only compounds the situation and it doesn’t put them in the best light. They just gotta be who they are. Who they are doesn’t change. I don’t want them trying to do something that they’re not capable of.”
Wittman has training camp and the preseason to see who will emerge from the pack, and he was pretty straightforward about his criteria.
“Well, they either get on board or they’re not going to play,” Wittman said. “They know. I talk to them more than I talk to anybody, before practice, after practice, at lunch, at breakfast.”
“They do have to be an extension of me. It’s a work in progress with them getting to understand me and what my tendencies are and vice versa.”
As for Nene, the veteran center is handling being sidelined a little better than Wall right now, having had more time to adjust to his nagging foot injury, which hampered him last season. Nene spent most of the first day of training camp sitting on the scorers table talking to Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld.