Nene on making debut in Atlanta: ‘It’s a chance’

November 21, 2012

There is a chance. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Nene finished tying his shoes, stood up, grimaced, then shook both legs and twisted his ankles.

As his teammates started running laps around the court before shootaround at Philips Arena, Nene stepped on the floor, aware that many want to know if he will be available when the Wizards play the Hawks tonight.

“It’s a chance,” Nene said, scrunching his face as he stretched. “If you ask now, I’d say no.”

Nene said that his body was a little sore the morning after completing his first full practice of the season with the Wizards. He added that he might try to help the winless Wizards (0-9) against the Hawks if he felt better before the game and could play “maybe 10 minutes.”

The Wizards went 7-4 with Nene in the lineup last season. Nene has been limited for the past three months because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot but said he was willing to “sacrifice” to help the team avoid becoming the 13th team in NBA history to lose its first 10 games.

“I can help,” he said. “After one practice, I know I can help.”

Coach Randy Wittman was surprised to hear that Nene would possibly be available after just one practice. Comcast NBA analyst Ric Bucher reported on Tuesday that Nene would make his debut against the Hawks but Wittman said with a laugh, “Nobody has told me he’s available. So, no. I don’t know how that got out. He’s practiced. Doing more and more in practice each day. Now it’s just how he feels, his pain and all that. Even yesterday, he didn’t say, ‘Hey, maybe …’ ”

Nene said he was also surprised by the report as well, which came shortly after an hour-long workout with the team.

“He know better than me?” Nene said with a laugh. “That was news to me.”

Whether or not he has Nene, Wittman said he knows for sure that the Wizards will field a new starting lineup in Atlanta. The last group, featuring A.J. Price, Jordan Crawford, Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza and Jan Vesely, fell behind 26-7 in the first nine minutes of a 96-89 loss to Indiana.

Wittman wouldn’t reveal his third different starting lineup of the season, but said, “Just another different combination that we haven’t probably seen a lot of. Just trying to figure out the group. Consistency, to see if we can’t get something going from that standpoint.”

Trevor Booker is also day-to-day after straining his right knee in the final 90 seconds against Indiana. He had an MRI on Tuesday but made the trip with the team. He will be a game-time decision.

“He’s pretty sore,” Wittman said. “Nothing came out of the MRI that’s of major concern. I don’t know about tonight.”

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.
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Michael Lee · November 21, 2012

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