[Updated following a conference call with the Wizards on Friday afternoon]
Four days before the opening of training camp, the Wizards have announced that third-year point guard John Wall will be out eight weeks after being diagnosed with the early stages of a stress injury to his left patella. In a release the team said no surgery will be necessary and that Wall’s rehab will begin immediately.
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.
“It’s disappointing, especially for me and my teammates,” Wall said on a conference call with reporters Friday afternoon. “It’s just like a minor setback. It’s something that I’m going to get in the training room and try to get stronger, take my time and make sure I don’t rush back and force myself to come back any time soon and just take care of myself for whenever I get ready for the season.”
Wall had given no indication of the injury during a Friday morning appearance at Simon Elementary School in Southeast Washington. Instead, he talked about what he got right in the first normal offseason of his career.
“My first year, coming into the league, I worked out but didn’t really know what it took to work out,” Wall said. “Then my second year, I worked out hard but then sometimes would take time off because the lockout was coming so I didn’t want to overwork myself, and then the season was going to start three months later so that kind of messed me up. This year I did exactly what I wanted to and how you’re really supposed to prepare yourself for the season.”
On an afternoon call with reporters, Wall said he first felt discomfort about a month ago, but an MRI at that time didn’t reveal any issues. When the problem persisted – Wizards coach Randy Wittman had described it as bursitis earlier in the week – Wall and the coaching staff and front office decided he should get a second opinion. He learned the results on Thursday night but didn’t want to reveal them Friday until he had spoken with the coaches, front office and ownership.
“This is a little bump in the road for him,” Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said. “He’s going to rehab. He’s going to come back, and he’s going to help us for the majority of the season. As far as the team is concerned, we have a deep roster right now, and we have a lot of players in a lot of different positions, and it’s not going to be about one player taking over for John. It’s going to be about a whole team effort. I think we’re deep. We have players that can pick up the slack, and it’s not going to be up to just one player. It’s going to be a team effort to pick up the slack until we can get John back.”
Grunfeld did say the team would consider signing a player to help fill the void left at point guard. The Wizards signed fourth-year guard A.J. Price in the offseason and have third-year reserve Shelvin Mack as well as training camp invitee Steven Gray. Shooting guards Jordan Crawford and Bradley Beal could also play the point at times.”We’ll look around and see who’s available, who is out there,” Grunfeld said. “If the right player becomes available, we would consider signing someone else. But we feel good about the players that we currently have on the roster. And john should be back for us toward the end of the first month of the season. Everybody heals at a different pace. We have versatile players also, at multiple positions, and plenty of guys here right now that can play at that spot.”
Wittman said the same hopes for his team and for Wall that he spoke of earlier this week still remain.
“This gives us a chance down the line, if you’re looking at the long road, of us becoming a better team,” Wittman said. “If we can come out and establish ourselves early and have different guys step up, and then when John comes back, John being John, those expectations aren’t going to change. I told John, ‘It’s going to be over with quicker than you think.’ He just needs to do his due diligence of rehab, and he’ll be back with us.”