Nene uncertain about return to Wizards’ lineup

The Wizards hope to have Nene back for the opener so they can lean on him while John Wall is out.

The Wizards expect to have John Wall back in roughly eight weeks, but while they anticipate having Nene before then, they are uncertain when the 6-foot-10 Brazilian big man will return from plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

Nene declined to offer a timetable when asked about when he planned to come back from an injury that he aggravated during the London Olympics and cost him 10 games last season in Washington.

“I don’t give specific time,” Nene said on Monday during media day. “I come here every day take care of myself, see when I feel really good, when I feel strong to do all things I need to do on the court. That’s the time.”

With Wall sidelined, the Wizards plan to lean more on Nene, who averaged 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in 11 games after arriving from Denver in a trade deadline deal. Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld said last week that he hopes to have Nene back in time for the season opener on Oct. 30 in Cleveland. When asked if he could return by then, Nene replied, “I hope too. We’ll be positive. We’ll work to be on that time.”

Coach Randy Wittman supported the front office’s decision to limit Nene during the preseason and hold him back from two-a-day practices as training camp begins on Tuesday at George Mason University in Fairfax. The Wizards are committing $52 million to Nene over the next four years.

Nene joked that since the Olympics ended in August that he has “been doing a lot of hard stuff – rest, do nothing, a couple of days.” But he also saw a foot specialist in Vail, Colo., while rehabilitating in both Denver and Washington. Taking it easy has done wonders for his foot. 

“Right now — because I’m not jumping or doing nothing — it feels pretty good,” Nene said. “I’ve been working hard, doing physical therapy, taking care of myself. I understand because as a veteran, when you feel good, that’s one of the goals. You need to feel good, you need to be good and you need to be smart.

Though plantar fasciitis can be both painful and unpredictable, Nene said he doesn’t expect the problem to linger throughout the upcoming season. “I hope not,” Nene said. “The bad part I passed. Now is the good part. I’m going to do what I can control. Time is going to be my friend, I hope.”

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