The Nene Report: ‘If I feel something sharp, I need to stop’
Feel free to watch three minutes of Nene speaking with the media after practice on Tuesday about his various ailments and how they relate to him playing the 5 position. Some stuff gets lost in translation, and there’s plenty of decipherable and undecipherable code talk. Code words for what? We’re still not quite sure.
Nene actually practiced on Tuesday, and that’s the big news. Otherwise, there is no news. Sounds like a couple days off gave his sore calf muscle a chance to improve, “a lot,” he says, but that it still hurts him a little bit. “If I feel something sharp, I need to stop,” Nene said, doctor’s orders. He said he felt some sharp pain when he tried pushing himself in practice and that he can’t be crazy, that he can’t use all of his speed and explosiveness.
“He practiced today, so that’s encouraging, but again, we’ll see in the morning,” said coach Randy Wittman as a matter of fact after Tuesday’s session.
“I’ve been way wrong before and you guys have let me know, too,” said Wittman later in reference to trying to prognosticate the availability of injured players. This was after Wittman called Nene a “probably a for sure game-time decision.”
In regard to his status Wednesday: “I think I can help,” Nene paused with a shrug and a coy smile. “How? We’ll see.”
But this is the day-to-day, just about every day, with Nene. This is the Nene Washington knew it was getting. This is the Nene whom, people say, gave Denver “buyer’s remorse.” Ex-Milwaukee Bucks colleagues George Karl, Denver’s coach when the trade happened, and Ernie Grunfeld surely exchanged notes.
The Wizards know injury drama. You remember the Gilbert Arenas saga, don’t you? No one jerked around a coach more than he did with Eddie Jordan when it came to ‘will he or won’t he’ play games. At least Nene seems more forthcoming, albeit in a much different situation.
It’s unclear at what point exactly Nene was truly hurt in Washington’s season opener against the Pistons; he played the entire game. Nene was asked if he felt pain throughout the course of the Detroit game.
“Yea, I feel like before, not that specific pain, but it was really tight. My calf was really tight.
“Matter of fact, before all those things, all the trade happen, remember what I said about my body? You know my body is feeling it to play the 5 position, so I said before things happen, you know, like I said. But it’s OK. We have good news, we prevent the worst, and now I came back into my routine and be able to practice and play with my team.”
The big man, who turned 31 in September and is owed $26 million over the following two seasons after this one, was also asked if his minutes would be limited.
“It’s not about minutes. A lot of things, when it happens, you can’t control. Because it was my best training camp—I feel good, in shape, playing with speed—but the only thing I learned before that happened was about a lot of things in my shoulder and my back to play in the 5 position, because my body is not like that anymore. But I think all those things was because I played like that in training camp. Well, who knows more about a body than yourself?”
Nene was asked if he would play 4, rather than 5, in his return.
“Yes, for sure. I’m pretty sure right now, for all those health issues I’ve had in the past, I should play 4. But you know, I’ll play 5, but I can’t start playing the whole game at 5.”
“He’s going to have to play  some,” countered Wittman. “With Marcin here now, he’ll be able to play some at the 4. But there’s going to be rotations at times where he’s going to be there.”
The coach continued: “Listen, you’re really, more times than not, when you’re playing the 5 position, you’re guarding the 4 anyway. So there’s not a lot of big bruisers out there that you have to worry about banging with.”
Not exactly a war of words, but certainly static messaging amidst the fray. But what else would you expect from an 0-3 team with expectations? The Wizards aren’t unique. Similar static exists in Sacramento and New York. However, the Washington franchise has gone out of its way to promote a drama-free environment, rather aiming its focus on crossing fingers for health.
Now, they can’t even make it through one game without drama surfacing around health. The life and times of the Wizards and the drama of Nene continues.