During his visit with orthopedic surgeon David Altchek last Friday in New York, Wall received a third Synvisc injection to alleviate some of the discomfort in his left knee and was told that he can begin “ramping up” his basketball-related activity.
“I got more like a smile on my face, a little bit,” Wall said, expressing the appropriate amount of optimism and caution for a situation that doesn’t appear close to being resolved.
In his first interview in more than a month, Wall admitted Monday he has developed cartilage damage underneath his left patella. His continued absence three months after the diagnosis of a non-traumatic stress injury has opened the door for more speculation about when — or if — he’ll return this season.
He mistakenly referred to the injury that has kept him sidelined since September as a “fracture” several times, but there would be much less mystery surrounding his condition had he simply suffered a clean break. In that case, he would be done for the season, no questions asked.
“I’m not thinking like that,” Wall said, when asked if it would be better for him to sit out the entire season. “Hopefully the time I’ve taken off and the shots I got and the treatment I’ve been getting is helping me get healthy so I can play basketball this season. You don’t want to miss a whole season. If it comes to it, you have to, but I’m trying not to think that far ahead.”
Wall, who hasn’t been cleared to practice, won’t begin to increase his physical workload until the swelling and pain in the knee comes down after his injection. The former No. 1 overall pick said he hopes to have a better sense of what he can do by Wednesday or Thursday, but at least he was able to elevate about two inches off the ground on his jumper while shooting three-pointers with his teammates after practice.
“That must be a good sign,” Wall said, cracking a rare smile. “Before there was so much pain you couldn’t even run on it. I couldn’t stretch my leg out at one point. It’s been getting better. I just got to take my time and see where it goes from there.”
Without Wall, the Wizards (3-18) are off to the worst 21-game start in franchise history as they prepare to host the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday — and that is no small accomplishment for a woebegone organization that has opened five other seasons at 4-17, including last season with a healthy Wall.
The team is losing games and players at a staggering rate, with three other players out because of serious injuries — Trevor Ariza (strained left calf), Trevor Booker (strained right knee) and Wall’s backup, A.J. Price (broken right hand) — and Nene reduced to a part-time player because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot.