Randy Wittman is getting tired of the question. But it gets asked after every practice and before and after every game: When is John Wall coming back? Last week, Wittman jokingly deflected the question for what must have seemed like the hundredth time.
“I tell my mom I don’t know,” Wittman said. “She asks me every day, too, ‘When’s John coming back?’ I tell her, ‘I don’t know, mom.’”
Wall is sidelined with a stress injury to his left knee, and he was initially expected to miss the first month of the season. But as the first month stretches into to second month, and Wall has not even been cleared to practice yet, the timetable has gone from one month to anybody’s guess.
After Thursday’s practice session, a member of the press upped the ante, asking Wittman if he was preparing to be without Wall all season.
“I’m not looking at it like that,” Wittman said.
Wall has now missed 10 weeks, and although he attends every practice and works on his shooting, putting up shot after shot without leaving his feet, the questions surrounding his return continue to mount.
“The only thing I can do is plan with what I’ve got,” Wittman said. “That’s what we’re doing. Obviously, we need John. We want John. I want John yesterday, but you’ve got to keep moving forward. That’s what we’re doing here and trying to do here.”
From his sideline perch, Wall is watching and learning the Wizards’ new “early offense,” something his speed and skill set will be perfectly suited for.
“John’s not going to miss a beat on anything that we’re doing or trying to do without him,” Wittman said. “We’re going to use him a lot like I did last year when he comes back. Obviously, [he has] the ability to quicken the pace all by himself.”
In the meantime, Wittman will now have to dip further into his bench as injuries keep two more of his starters, Trevor Booker and Trevor Ariza, out of the lineup.
Booker has a right knee strain and has been moved from day-to-day to the inactive list. He’s now expected to miss at least two more weeks. Ariza is also out after straining his left calf in Tuesday’s win over Miami.
The good news for Ariza is that he doesn’t need the walking boot he was wearing on Wednesday. The bad news is that his prognosis is up in the air.
“The timetable is really going to be how he recovers, what’s his speed of recovery,” Wittman said.
Cartier Martin and Martell Webster are expected to be used more in Ariza’s absence, and Jan Vesely may even get a little more playing time. Vesely’s poor play has earned him a seat on the bench the last three games. In two, Vesely didn’t play at all, and, in one, he played the last five seconds. Still, Wittman wants him to stay ready.
“He’s got to keep practicing hard and it’s going to come, it’s going to happen,” Wittman said. “He’s got to be ready for that and stay sharp and stay alert and use this time to the fullest. He’s got a good attitude.”