John Wall was back laughing, talking smack and having fun with his teammates at the end of Monday’s practice on the Verizon Center main court.
Camped out in the right corner, Wall elevated a few inches off the ground to shoot three-pointers. The slight lift on his jumper is comparable to the incremental progress that Wall has made with his troublesome left knee.
Nearly three months after having a non-traumatic stress injury in his left patella diagnosed, Wall is still unable to practice and has no timetable for his return after his latest visit with New York-based orthopedic specialist David Altchek.
After going silent for nearly a month, Wall provided an update on his status but couldn’t offer much detail – or hope, for when he will eventually take the floor this season. Watching his teammates stumble to a franchise-worst 3-18 start has made sitting out more painful – “Nothing’s been going the right way for us this year,” he said – but Wall is determined to get back when he’s healthy.
Wall also won’t know what he can really do on the basketball court until his latest Synvisc injection, received last Friday in New York, settles in the next few days. He said he still needs the swelling and pain in his knee to subside before he goes full tilt.
Though Wall repeatedly referred to his injury as a “stress fracture,” the Wizards are adamant that he neither had a stress fracture nor stress reaction, but rather a non-traumatic stress injury. Here are some of the highlights from his interview:
On the temptation to sit out the entire season: “I’m not thinking like that. Hopefully with 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.”
On the difficulty of the past three months: “It’s been very tough for me, because I want to play basketball, you know what I mean? First time, I’ve really been injured, sitting out a long time. And I like the way that we had a lot of new guys added to the team, and I feel like our team was better, and we had a lot of goals set. And we’ve still got them set, but it’s tough when you got to sit there and watch and you can’t help out your team, and we go out there giving it our all and playing hard every night, so I just wish I was there to help them go through the stuff that we’re going through.”
On similarities with knee injury that cost Blake Griffin his rookie season: “He broke his knee cap. … I was in the beginning stage of breaking my knee cap. It was lucky I caught it before it broke and I would already know what my timetable was, of missing the whole season. And then I had a little bit of cartilage problem underneath my knee cap. That’s kind of rough, so.”
On if he feels that he will make progress when swelling goes down: “That’s a 50-50 chance, you got. You never know how it’s going to go. Hopefully it heals the right way and I’ve been doing the right things I’m supposed to do, just rest, do my exercises, try to stay in shape as best as possible, but without going out and injuring myself and hurting myself for the rest of my career. I want to be out there and play basketball with my teammates, but I just got to make sure I’m fully healthy to do that.”
On receiving a timetable from the doctor: “No, no timetable. Basically just to see how this shot goes, see if I can get back to ramping it up without having no pain, or pain, or soreness. If it clears from there, I can go anywhere from there.”
On his biggest concern about coming back too early: “You don’t want to go back and re-injure that and then miss a whole ‘nother… so I’m just trying to not think that far ahead. My fracture is already healed. It’s just the cartilage part that is left that I’m trying to get clear. I feel like the eight weeks I took was the time for my stress fracture to heal.”
On relating to Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III being upset about sitting out in Cleveland because “players play”: His is a game. Mine is three or four months. It’s a big difference, but it’s a great point. When you’re competitive you always want to be out there with your teammates. But at the same time you’ve got to understand they’re just trying to make sure your health is right before they put him out there and injure him even more. Like he said, it was time for somebody to step up and another rookie quarterback stepped up and won a big game for them.
On disappointment of having to wait: “It’s very disappointing. I just feel like God is challenging me mentally, giving me a course like this to see if I can get through it. I have to sit back and wait.”
On his summer workouts: “I did everything the same way. I switched different people but it wasn’t a different type of workout. Just playing basketball on the court and lifting weights, not really too much lower body. I think it just came from wear and tear.”
On what it will take for the season to turn around: “You got to find a way to get a long winning streak, that’s the only way. You’ve got to take it game by game but we’ve got to find a way to win probably eight, nine, 10 games in a row to at least get to four or five games away from.500.”