With the Wizards a week away from making their preseason debut next week against the Brooklyn Nets, owner Ted Leonsis stopped by George Mason’s Patriot Center on Tuesday to check out his team for the first time.
The fourth day of training camp featured the absence of yet another player as forward Trevor Ariza sat out practice to nurse a sore right calf that he injured near the tail of the practice the day before.
Ariza missed almost a month last season with a strained left calf, which resulted in him losing the starting small forward job that he hopes to regain this season. But Coach Randy Wittman didn’t sound overly concerned about Ariza’s current ailment and expects him to be back on the floor in the next day or two.
“He was pretty good today,” Wittman said of Ariza. “It was an encouraging sign, coming after last night. It was a little bit of soreness, a little, so we kept him out. With him having the problem that he had last year, with straining it, and missing the time he did, we erred on the side of caution with him.”
Otto Porter Jr. (right hip flexor) and Trevor Booker (sore right knee) remain limited and have yet to get involved. The team will move camp to Verizon Center on Thursday, which gives them just one more opportunity to participate in activities in Virginia. After practice, Booker worked on agility drills with head athletic trainer Eric Waters, running and cutting along the painted area. Porter shot stand-still jumpers as he has for the past few days.
“I told the training staff, ‘Tell me when they can play,’ ” Wittman said. “It’s a concern, no question. Even for a guy like Booker. He fought through injuries. Obviously, we got to get him healthy, but we got to get on the floor, too. That’s what these trainers are for.”
Wittman said that the Wizards have tried to help Porter learn the system, though he hasn’t had a chance to run through any drills with the team. “We have guys sit with him. Watch film with him. He’s not in the film, but watching the practice and talking him through different things. It’s about all you can do. You’ve got to continually try to teach him, even though he’s not on the floor.”
The Wizards are already without Chris Singleton (broken right foot) and Emeka Okafor (herniated disk in neck) and Wittman has decided to give his players somewhat of a break by not forcing them to have two practice sessions each day, as originally scheduled.
“I think the camp is really good right now,” Nene said. “The coaches, they know what they need to do. Camp is not about kill the players, it’s about preparing the players for the season, so what we do, we do with high intensity.”
Despite few practices, Wittman said he noticed fatigue beginning to take over.
“These are more mental days than physical days” he said. “I talked to this team as a group, where we have to grow and teams that do make it into the playoffs, teams that do win in the league, you know everybody in this league plays hard. You play hard when everything is comfortable, but are we going to be a team that plays hard when things become uncomfortable? Are we going to be a team that perseveres through tough times. That’s what today is. ‘My body is sore.’ Are you going to fight through it? Are we going to use the day and make sure we get together? And that’s the step we need to make as a group. Days like this, you’ve got to pick each other up and pull guys through that. We’ll see. Tomorrow will be another one of those. They haven’t done anything as strenuous as this in any workout that they’ve had all summer. You get back here, it’s a whole ‘nother level. Your body is going to be sore and I want to see from a mental standpoint fight through those situations.”