Jan Vesely waited by bench to greet his teammates with applause and hand slaps at halftime of Wizards’ 104-95 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday at Philips Arena. He didn’t leave until Nene was the last player to walk of the court and joined him on the journey to the locker room.
Vesely remains a supportive teammate in the only way he can, now that he hasn’t been able to provide much assistance on the court. The struggling second-year forward from the Czech Republic has fallen so far out of the rotation that he was the only healthy Wizard on the roster that didn’t make an appearance in the loss to Atlanta.
With the Wizards trailing by 13 in the final minute, Coach Randy Wittman called on veteran Earl Barron to replace Nene and finish out the game. Vesely has received a DNP-Coach’s Decision in each of the past two games but Wittman said recently that he hasn’t given up on the sixth overall pick of the 2011 draft.
“I don’t want him to step away from game playing, I want him to be ready every night,” Wittman said. “As our guys know, it can change at any minute. We’ve said that all year, with who I started and who’s played and who hasn’t played. He’s got to keep practicing hard and it’s going to come. It’s going to happen.”
The Wizards don’t have any plans of sending Vesely to the NBA Developmental League, according to a league source, but he has seen a precipitous decline in his minutes since being replaced in the starting lineup before a Nov. 26 loss to San Antonio.
Vesely has appeared in less than one second combined in the past four games – and that was simply to guard the inbounds passer on the final possession against Portland. After a recent loss in New York, Vesely admitted that he has struggled to stay confident with the team playing poorly.
“It’s tough for everybody to stay positive,” Vesely said. “I can’t say how you can stay positive. I just try not to think about it too much and go on to the next day.”
Wizards owner Ted Leonsis might “support” Vesely that hasn’t translated into more playing time. He is averaging just 2.1 points and 2.1 rebounds this season and has probably suffered the most in the absence of John Wall, who would consistently look for Vesely for lob dunks and keep him engaged.
Vesely has more fouls (34) than points (29) or rebounds (30) and Wittman has complained about his lack of “activity” in his time on the court. Even with the Wizards changing to a more quicker pace offense, Trevor Booker still sidelined with a right knee injury and Trevor Ariza going down with a strained left calf, Vesely still hasn’t seen the court.
“I don’t know,” Wittman said. “He’s got to be ready for that and sharp stay alert and use this time to the fullest. He’s got a good attitude.”