As the Wizards wrapped up their New Year’s Eve practice session Monday, coach Randy Wittman said he’s not much for New Year’s resolutions — although this year, there is one thing he’s hoping will be different in 2013.
“Health,” Wittman said. “I always just hope for good, clean health moving forward, and we need it. We’re actually seeing a foray of people on the practice floor now, which is good to see. We’re getting closer, and hopefully in the new year, we can get everybody back at one time. That’s my resolution.”
Washington (4-24) has been decimated by injuries, causing Wittman to use 12 different starting lineups and five different point guards.
The Wizards have endured injuries to guards John Wall (stress injury to his left knee), A.J. Price (broken right hand), Jordan Crawford (sprained left ankle) and Bradley Beal (back spasms), forwards Trevor Ariza (left calf strain) and Trevor Booker (right knee strain) and center Nene (plantar fasciitis in left foot). All have missed games, and Wall hasn’t played.
Ariza and Wall recently have been cleared for noncontact activity, while Booker and Price still are watching from the sideline. Nene is on a minutes limit, Beal missed two games and Crawford, who missed the last game, is trying to play through his injury.
“He’s done a good job,” center Emeka Okafor said of his coach’s ability to juggle the lineups. “He’s had a very, very tough job trying to make everything mesh, not having all the complete pieces with the injuries. I just commend him for keeping a great attitude and keeping the guys motivated and just leading the ship.”
Wittman is hoping to get Ariza back for a full practice later in the week and Wall back sometime in January. He also knows that on some level it’s wishful thinking.
“They consult every day with the doctor,” Wittman said. “For John, this is probably as hard as he’s gone [in practice] up to this point. Tomorrow, they evaluate, measure, make sure no swelling is going on, talk to the doctor and the doctor gives them a recommendation of how to amp it.”
For Ariza, it’s the longest he’s been out since breaking his right foot during the 2007-08 season, an injury that sidelined him for six months.
“It’s been frustrating,” Ariza said. “As a competitor, you want to be out there on the court with your team, trying to help them win and doing everything you can to help the team.”
Ariza said there is tightness in the calf, and some fatigue when he’s running, but that he feels good overall. As for Booker and Price, it could be a while before either can participate in what Wittman calls “dummy” drills — simulated practice sessions without contact.
While he’s not relying on the magic of a new year to change the Wizards’ fortunes, Wittman reflected on what he’s learned about himself and his team in 2012.
“It’s always tough when you’re going through everything — injuries and the way we started,” Wittman said. “I’ve learned a lot through it, too, how to deal with a team, trying to keep competitive and keep fighting, and that’s the one thing that I’m proud of these guys about. If there’s one thing you can probably say about this team and the guys that are missing is they are resilient.”