The Wizards’ enthusiasm for the upcoming season experienced a major setback on Friday when the team announced that point guard John Wall would miss about eight weeks after being diagnosed with the early stages of a non-traumatic stress injury in his knee. Surgery isn’t required, according to a statement released by the team, but Wall will have to begin rehabilitation immediately.
After experiencing discomfort in his left knee, which Coach Randy Wittman initially thought was bursitis, Wall visited orthopedic specialist David Altchek in New York on Thursday and underwent an MRI that revealed the early stages of an injury that could eventually lead to a fractured patella.
“My teammates and I are all excited to build on the improvement we made at the end of last season, and I know they will continue to make great progress while I get through this setback,” Wall said in a statement. “I will work extremely hard to make sure I get back as soon as possible so I can re-join them and help our team continue to improve.”
Training camp is set to begin on Tuesday at George Mason but the Wizards will also be without Nene as he recovers from plantar fasciitis in his left foot for the start of two-a-day practices. Wall’s injury leaves the Wizards with A.J. Price and Shelvin Mack as the only other point guards on the roster. The Wizards will open the season on Oct. 30 in Cleveland, but Wall isn’t expected to return until close to December.
“We’re all disappointed for John after how hard he worked this summer and how excited he was to begin training camp, but we feel fortunate that we caught the injury early and that he will be able to return with the vast majority of the season still in front of us,” team President Ernie Grunfeld said in a statement. “In the meantime, we’re confident that the versatility and depth of our team will help us move forward and continue the positive momentum that we’ve seen over the past several months.”
Wall played all 66 games during the lockout-shortened campaign last season, but he missed 13 games as a rookie, dealing with problems in his left foot and a bone bruise under his right knee cap. He would miss about 14 games by sitting the first month of the regular season.
The doctor visit also kept Wall from attending a dinner in Washington on Thursday for the inaugural Nell and John Wooden Coach of the Year Leadership Award. John Calipari, Wall’s former coach at Kentucky, received the honor. Wall also had a community relations event at Simon Elementary in Southeast pushed back another day until Friday, when he led a program on being active with young kids.
Wall did not participate in the activities, watching closely as kids chased each other around in flags and did jump jacks. When asked why he wasn’t running around with the kids in the field, Wall explained, “Because it’s slippery, because I don’t want to fall out here.”
A few hours later, it was revealed that his concern was rooted in something more serious.
Wall has averaged 16.3 points, 8.2 assists and 4.6 rebounds since the Wizards selected him No. 1 overall in 2010. Before news of his injury was revealed on Friday, Wall discussed the work he put in this offseason, working with famed trainer Rob McClanaghan, and explained how he wants to make the playoffs this season.
“I think the pieces we have is great, but I think for us to take that next step, it’s going to be keyed on me,” Wall said. “Your third year is a key year. It makes or breaks you, what you’re going to be in the this league. This is a big year for me.”