Trevor Ariza will not be back in uniform when the Wizards host the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday at Verizon Center, but he would like for his status to change by the end of the week.
“I hope so, man,” Ariza said. “Just have to keep progressing, keep getting better.”
Ariza has missed the past 13 games since straining his left calf on Dec. 4 during the Wizards’ win over the defending champion Miami Heat. But Ariza is slowing making steps toward returning and participated in five-on-none “dummy” drills, along with John Wall, at Monday’s practice.
“I feel really good right now,” said Ariza, who is averaging 8.1 points and 4.9 rebounds in 15 games this season. “Only thing is it gets a little tight, a little fatigued sometimes when I’m running. But for the most part it feels pretty good.”
Ariza didn’t have much swelling after his initial injury, which he said has helped the calf heal easier, but he can’t offer a specific game that he’s targeting for a return. “That’s all depending on how I feel I guess,” Ariza said.
Sitting out has been frustrating, Ariza said, and he has spent the past month getting treatment and spending more time with his family. “Trying to keep my mind as occupied as I can,” he said.
Acquired from New Orleans, along with Emeka Okafor, in late June, Ariza has seen the Wizards (4-24) endure a plethora of injuries in his short time in Washington. He has yet to play with Wall. Nene has played limited minutes. Trevor Booker sprained his right knee and A.J. Price broke his hand a few days after Ariza went down. The Wizards have also waived three players, and added three more – including a training camp cut – since the season began.
“Man, that’s basketball, that’s what we signed up for. Injuries are part of the game,” Ariza said. “That’s why you have 15 players. Whenever somebody goes down, somebody has to step up and get the opportunity.”
Ariza recently traveled with the team to Chicago but he has mostly watched the home games from the bench in a suit. With so many different players shuttling in and out of the lineup, Ariza said it has been difficult to figure out the tendencies of his teammates, who have been asked to take on more responsibilities with a limited roster.
“Everybody takes a different role when you have players out. It’s tough to say that you’re going to come right back in and fit in with people straight away,” he said. “At this point, it doesn’t matter. We just got to try and get better, period. When everybody comes back we got a lot of growing to do. We just have to try and mesh somehow.”
Jordan Crawford returned to practice on Monday after missing Saturday’s 87-77 loss to Chicago with a sore left ankle. Coach Randy Wittman said Crawford has been battling the injury for the past few weeks after absorbing a hard foul at recent home game.
“He practiced, said he was feeling better,” Witman said. “It’s been lingering. Three weeks ago, he turned it, down at that end, and you know he didn’t come out that game, but he’s kind of played through it and it’s been one of those, it’s just never gone away. And he warmed up in Chicago, prior to the game and it was so stiff. He couldn’t get it loose. That was the first time. He’s pretty resilient in terms of playing through things, so it must’ve really been bothering him.”