The Wizards played their preseason opener, a 100-88 loss in Charlotte, with a pretty decent lineup not in uniform. John Wall and Nene haven’t participated in training camp, Trevor Booker and Jannero Pargo were injured during the week, and Coach Randy Wittman gave veteran Emeka Okafor the afternoon off to rest.
Wittman said Okafor hasn’t experienced any discomfort in his knee but the coach didn’t want to wear him out after he felt normal fatigue and soreness from eight practices in five days. Okafor said he didn’t have any major concerns and just needed some rest.
“No need to put him through any compromising things the first day,” Wittman said, adding that Booker (sore left hamstring) and Pargo (abdominal strain) were also held out mostly for precautionary reasons. “I think it’s close, with both of them. They are both headed in the right directions, feeling much better as we’ve moved on the past couple of days.”
With a huge chunk of the team sidelined, Wittman started A.J. Price, Jordan Crawford, Trevor Ariza, Jan Vesely and Kevin Seraphin against the Bobcats.
“This is a good opportunity when guys are sitting out for somebody to step up and show me what they’ve got,” Wittman said. “It’s a good thing. It’s all an evaluation that you want.”
As Wittman spoke with reporters, former Wizards center Brendan Haywood walked down the hallway, pointed at Wittman and said, “That’s going to be the coach of the year right there.”
The Bobcats claimed Haywood off waivers this summer after Dallas cut him using the amnesty clause. Wittman worked with Haywood for half a season in Washington. He laughed and said, “Back home!”
Haywood responded, “One mortgage!”