- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 5, 2016

John Wall had a hard time explaining the knee pain he felt at the end of the season. One day, he was fine and participated in practice. The next, his knee was swollen enough that Wall — who had played in the playoffs in 2015 with a broken hand — did not play in crucial games with the Washington Wizards‘ playoff chances on the line. He also didn’t know at the end of the year what would be necessary for his knee to feel better.

On Thursday, the Wizards announced that Wall underwent “procedures” earlier in the day to alleviate pain in each knee. According to the team, the point guard is expected to be ready for the beginning of next season. The rehabilitation process will begin immediately.

In his left knee, Wall had a procedure done to excise calcific deposits in his patella tendon in order to eliminate pain and assist healing. In his right, the one that caused him to miss the season’s final five games, doctors performed an arthroscopic lavage, commonly a treatment for osteoarthritis, in order to remove loose bodies.

“I am determined to lead this team back to the playoffs and getting healthy is the best way for me to accomplish that,” Wall said in a statement. “I can promise the fans, my teammates and the organization that I will be focused on that goal throughout the summer and it will drive me to do everything I can to be ready for next season.”

The procedure was performed by Dr. Richard D. Parker at the Cleveland Clinic Marymount following consultations with Dr. James Andrews, Dr. Josh Hackel and Wizards team physician Wiemi Douoguih.

John’s procedure went very well and should allow him to play without pain once he has completed his rehabilitation,” Parker said in a statement. “We have worked closely with the Wizards‘ medical and athletic training staff throughout this process to develop the plan he will need to follow this summer in order to resume his normal basketball activities.”

The pain in his right knee caused Wall to miss the final five games of what was a spectacular season personally, and a clunky one for the team. Wall averaged career highs of 19.9 points, 10.2 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game last season. Wall’s 49 double-doubles were a career high and tied for fourth in the NBA. He was third in assists and eighth in steals and was named an all-star for the third consecutive season.

The Wizards, however, finished 41-41 and missed the playoffs. Within hours of the conclusion to their final game on April 13, coach Randy Wittman was fired after four-plus years in the position. Washington hired Scott Brooks on April 26 to replace Wittman.

Wall practiced and appeared to be on track to play out the season on April 5. The Wizards still had a slim chance of making the playoffs at that point. But, he woke up the morning of a game against the woeful Brooklyn Nets on April 7 with a swollen knee. He sat out that night, often extending his stiff right leg while on the bench watching the game in a white leather coat and jeans. Wall said afterward he could not have played no matter the opponent or circumstance. After being one of just two Washington players to play the first 77 games of the season, Wall’s knee finally forced him to the bench.

“He had some swelling in [the knee] unlike it had had this year,” Wittman said at the time.

“It just swelled up on me out of nowhere,” Wall said after the game.

The Wizards were eliminated from playoff contention two days later. Wall watched the Detroit Pistons celebrate clinching a playoff spot on their home floor.

The final day of the regular season, Wall said he had the knee “drained” before the game against Detroit. He also mentioned that it was improving since he had been sitting out. Wall said further tests on the knee were being performed, then was asked if he expected an offseason procedure to be necessary.

“I’m praying I don’t have to,” Wall said. “But, I don’t know yet until the doctors finish meeting and my agent comes in and meets them.”

The conclusion was to have both knees worked on.

“The consultations with John, his agent and a variety of top medical professionals led us all to the conclusion that the best course of action for John was to have this procedure done now with regards to both next season and his long-term health,” Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld said in a statement. “John has been a true warrior for us throughout his career and we’re confident that his work ethic will have him back leading the team as soon as possible.”

Before Wall’s procedure, the Wizards knew they would need a reliable backup point guard next season. Ramon Sessions filled that spot last season, putting together his best season since 2014. Sessions averaged 9.9 points per game and shot the second-best field-goal percentage of his career, 47.3 percent, though he was among the league’s worst defenders at the position. He is an unrestricted free agent who has expressed his desire to start. Returning to the Wizards is unlikely, putting that much more pressure on Wall to be healed before the season begins.

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