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Wizards set to open training camp without John Wall, Nene
Both figure to miss start of season
John Wall didn’t take the news well. At least not at first.
“It was kind of frustrating,” Wall said. “I just walked out of the room. The whole ride back to D.C., I didn’t talk to nobody. I turned my phones off. It was tough.”
Wall was diagnosed with a stress injury to his left patella Thursday in New York after reoccurring pain led him to seek a second opinion and have a second MRI. He’s expected to miss at least eight weeks, which includes training camp, the preseason and about 10 regular-season games.
Now that he’s had time to adjust, Wall is looking on the bright side.
“I wish it was earlier than this so that I could start the season off right,” Wall said. “I’m glad they found it before it got real bad. I could have probably tore it or missed the whole season. I have to just let it fully heal, and I’ll be back ready to play.”
Losing Wall is tough enough, but the Wizards also are likely to start the season without veteran center Nene, who has been hampered by plantar fasciitis in his left foot. The injury caused Nene to play in just 11 of 25 games for Washington last season, and it was aggravated this summer during the Olympics while playing for his native Brazil.
“I hope I can come back soon,” Nene said. “I’m going to do the maximum I can. I can lead, be vocal, talk to the players, see things they didn’t see while they played. That’s the way I can help them.”
Nene would not give a timetable for his return. He did say, however, he feels better than he did in London when there were nights he had to play and could not feel his foot. He’s hoping the injury will not be a recurring problem.
“The bad part has passed, now is the good part,” Nene said. “I’m going to do what I can control. Time is going to be my friend, I hope.”
Contingency plans are in place. The Wizards signed Emeka Okafor in the offseason and also will have a steadily improving Kevin Seraphin to hold down the fort at center while Nene is out. Seraphin and Nene took about a week to bond after Nene was acquired at the trade deadline. Seraphin has not only improved under Nene’s guidance, but the two are friends off the court and are learning one another’s native languages — Portuguese and French.
Okafor is entering his ninth season and has career averages of 12.7 points and 10.1 rebounds.
“I’m a hard worker,” Okafor said. “I’m mostly defense-oriented, so my role will be to provide that veteran leadership on and off the court and show these guys how to work. The longer you’re in the league, the longer you see things and things present themselves, so I’m just trying to teach.”
Okafor calls the four and five spots interchangeable on the court, and believes he and Nene will mesh well when Nene does return. As for the starting point guard spot in Wall’s absence, it’s still anybody’s guess.
After a lackluster summer league showing by Shelvin Mack, Wall’s backup last season, the team signed A.J. Price in July. Price spent last season with Indiana and never felt he was a good fit with the Pacers. He’s hoping for more playing time in Washington.
On Monday, the Wizards signed Janero Pargo, who played for the Atlanta Hawks last season and has career averages of 6.5 points and 2.0 assists. Also expected to see time at point guard is Jordan Crawford, who is a more natural fit at two guard but can run the point if needed.
The Wizards open training camp Tuesday at George Mason University and will have a little time to see if they’ll play point guard by committee or if someone will emerge as Wall’s temporary successor. As for Wall, he’s hoping the team won’t lose too much ground while he’s out.
“I trust those guys,” Wall said. “I trust the team that we have, and I love the decisions that we made that they can do good without me. We’re going to be a different team, but I still have confidence and believe in my teammates. I feel they can win a lot of games without me there.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Carla Peay keeps you up to date on the Washington Wizards and the NBA.
- John Wall’s practice session includes contact
- Chris Singleton falls out of Wizards' rotation
- Wizards can't sustain solid start, fall to Mavericks
- Kevin Seraphin gets some tough love from his 'big brothers'
- Wizards' Randy Wittman desires healthier team in 2013
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