Andray Blatche returned to practice on Thursday after missing more than a month of action with a strained left calf muscle, but Nick Young was unable to participate after bruising his right knee the night before in the second half of the Wizards’ 102-95 loss to the Orlando Magic. After Thursday’s practice, Coach Randy Wittman said Young had developed swelling in his knee and would have an MRI later in the afternoon.
Young, the Wizards’ second-leading scorer after recently being passed by John Wall, had been benched in favor of Jordan Crawford against Orlando and scored just five points in 19 minutes. Crawford scored 18 points, with 14 coming in the third quarter, in his first start since the second game of the season.
If Young misses significant time, Wittman said it is fortunate that the team is somewhat prepared with Roger Mason Jr. and Maurice Evans getting action in the past two games. “Mase and Mo and guys like that are going to have more opportunities and they’ve all played here recently. That’s a good thing,” Wittman said. “It’s not like they’ve been sitting there for a little bit of time and not playing. All those guys have been playing, so if Nick’s out, their minutes will be impacted by that.”
Mason has scored a total of 18 points his past two games and said he is ready to fill in for Young as needed. “I don’t know his status. I know he banged his knee up a little bit. But if he is out, other guys have to step up. We’ve been playing, and since Witt has started playing some of us off the bench, we’ve had some success. We’ll just try to build off of that.”
Wittman said he would have to wait until Friday’s practice to determine how to use Blatche. The team had a light practice coming off a back-to-back set, but would have a better “feel” after a more intense workout.
After the loss to the Magic, center JaVale McGee said he hadn’t figured out the meaning behind his benching against Milwaukee and Orlando. When asked what he hoped McGee learned form the move, Wittman replied, “The message, non-message. We’re trying to be competitive and do things that are going to get us closer and opportunities to win games. I don’t know where all of a sudden, I’m sending messages. I’m coaching. That’s what I’m doing. That’s what it’s called in our business is coaching. No subliminal messages here that somebody’s got to crypt through and figure. It’s coaching. They know. Each player. It’s not JaVale. It’s not anyone; it’s all 14 of them. They know where they stand and what I expect of them. So there is no message. I mean, a lot of people state that. I’m coaching.”
Wittman then paused and said, “I coach you the same way as I would those guys. You need to ask better questions. That’s how I would coach you.”
Mason said the roster shuffling makes sense and has had a positive effect, though it hasn’t resulted in wins. “I think at the end of the day, you look at our record, we’ve struggled. So I think everything’s up in the air. At this point, we want to try to get wins. It’s nice to play games close, but we want to start getting wins, and that’s the name of the game. That’s why you play. You can have youth movements, you can do all these types of things, but nobody wants to be a part of a team that’s losing, and I think Witt’s just searching for that. I think guys are going to respond to it, and we’re just going to keep trying to fight and get some wins out there.”