During his press conference on Wednesday, Washington Wizards coach Randy Wittman spoke about some of the “bumps and bruises” his team was experiencing leading up to training camp.
Of course there was mention of Nene’s plantar fasciitis and how the team would be cautious with the 30-year-old. Wittman also said that Emeka Okafor dislocated a finger just that day. “He’s fine… pops back in. Your finger joints happen all the time, I’m lucky I got straight fingers,” he said, also mentioning that Okafor’s knee had been at 100 percent since the Wizards traded for him. In addition, Wittman mentioned that Trevor Booker was healthy and ready to go.
Finally, Wittman said that John Wall was experiencing some bursitis, but he didn’t seem highly concerned about it Then, on Friday afternoon, the bombshell. Per team press release:
Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that guard John Wall will miss approximately eight weeks after being diagnosed with the early stages of a stress injury to his left patella. No surgery will be necessary, and his rehab will begin immediately.
“My teammates and I are all excited to build on the improvement we made at the end of last season, and I know they will continue to make great progress while I get through this setback,” said Wall. “I will work extremely hard to make sure I get back as soon as possible so I can re-join them and help our team continue to improve.”
Wall was examined yesterday in New York by orthopedic specialist Dr. David Altchek after experiencing discomfort in his left knee and underwent an MRI that revealed the early stages of a non-traumatic stress injury.
“We’re all disappointed for John after how hard he worked this summer and how excited he was to begin training camp, but we feel fortunate that we caught the injury early and that he will be able to return with the vast majority of the season still in front of us,” said Grunfeld. ”In the meantime, we’re confident that the versatility and depth of our team will help us move forward and continue the positive momentum that we’ve seen over the past several months.”
Wall, Wittman and Grunfeld are scheduled to hold a conference call on the matter at 2:30 pm on Friday afternoon. UPDATED with quotes below.
Bad news you say? Certainly. Sound the doomsday alarms? Naw, don’t do it. Not just yet. Continue being the Wizards fan that you are (if, in fact, you are a Wizards fan)? At this point, you have no other choice.
“And so it begins…” tweeted the Washington Post’s Michael Lee. Yep, and so it does.
UPDATE: Quotes from conference call…
Wall opening statement:
“This is kind of disappointing for me, especially for me and my teammates. It’s just like a minor setback that’s something that I’m just going to go in the training room, try to get stronger, take my time, and make sure I don’t rush back and force myself to come back anytime soon.”
Wall on how it happened:
“It’s just something that happens when you work out very hard and that’s all I can say.”
Wall on when he first started feeling discomfort:
“It was like a month ago when I started feeling discomfort, so I just came back and kept doing the same thing I was doing, and late last night — when I went to the doctor yesterday — late last night I found out the bad news that I have to spend some time out, but I didn’t want to say anything to nobody. I wanted to talk to my coaches and my general manager and owner and make sure things were right before we laid everything out.”
Ernie Grunfeld on rehab:
“The doctor tells us he can do a light, no contact kind of situation. He can do swimming, running in a pool, biking, running on an AlterG (anti-gravity treadmill), things of that nature, but no impact type of workouts. It’s gradually going to be built up.”
Grunfeld on possibly signing someone to help:
“Yes, we’ll look around, see who’s available, who’s out there, and if the right player becomes available, we would consider possibly signing someone else. But we feel good about the players that we currently have on the roster, and John should be back for us towards the end of the first month of the season.”
Randy Wittman on the future:
“The good thing about this is is that we caught it when we did. It’s not the best-case scenario, but we also have to look at this in a positive way. I’m still expecting a lot out of John, and that’s not going to change. As I talked to you guys the other day, my expectations of what John can do this year, in being this his third year, that’s not going to change. It’s just going to start a little later. And we are lucky. We are very lucky that we took the precautionary steps of making sure that there was nothing there. We had thought that there was maybe bursitis or something like that, but we were lucky that we came and saw it before there was a fracture or anything of that nature.”
Wall on difficulty of setback:
“It’s very tough for me, but it’s great to have the great people… teammates I have around me, coaching staff, organization up top, and the owners and all those guys, it’s great. They just try to keep me level-headed. Like I said, it’s a minor setback, but I trust in my coaches and new coaching staff we have and all those guys and my teammates that are going to hold it down and play the best they can. I’m just going to be there and try to be like a next coach and mentor some of the younger guys and help Shelvin and A.J. out and Brad, and just make sure they have great season while I’m not there.”
Wall on “second opinion” in New York:
“It was everybody’s opinion. Everybody decided that we should check it out and make sure everything was good. Because I’m not the type of person that would try to play through an injury, so we wanted to make sure everything was good before I hurt it and did anything else, so that’s why we did it.”
“We did an MRI on John about three weeks ago and that MRI didn’t show anything, and that’s when, like Randy said, the bursitis situation came up. And as John, and he knows his body better than anybody, and he didn’t feel quite right, and before training camp started, we decided to send him to a foremost expert, a specialist up in New York, David Altchek. John went up there, he had another MRI, and this time on the MRI it revealed that he had the early stage of a stress injury. And luckily we found it because it could have turned into a stress fracture if we didn’t find it so early. There’s no surgery needed. Rest is needed, obviously, and so we’re fortunate that we did get this opinion and that we found it at such an early stage.”