Nene stayed behind in Brazil to tend to what Coach Randy Wittman referred to as “a personal matter” and will not be available when the Wizards host the Miami Heat on Tuesday at Verizon Center.
“He stayed back to take care of some family,” Wittman said.
With his mother, Carmen, other family members and several close friends in attendance, Nene scored five points with six rebounds Saturday in Rio de Janeiro in the first ever NBA exhibition in his native country.
Wittman said he expects Nene to return in time to suit up when the Wizards take on the New York Knicks on Thursday in Baltimore. Without disclosing his starters against Miami, Wittman stated that Jan Vesely, Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker will get more playing time in Nene’s absence.
“That’s good for them, in this setting. So I’m not worried about it,” Wittman said, when asked about his front-court rotation without Nene.
Forward Al Harrington sat out the Wizards’ 83-81 loss to the Chicago Bulls with a strained left quad but said he hopes to play against Miami. Harrington participated in most of Monday’s grueling three-hour practice before sitting out the last few minutes.
“I felt this kind of pain before, like when I run on the treadmill the first time, but it usually goes away after a couple of games, but this time it didn’t,” Harrington said. “I’m going to try. That’s my expectation, to play. But I’m going to be smart about. Just see how I feel. I was able to get through the whole practice today, except for the last couple of minutes. But if I play 15, 20 minutes, I’m sure I could do that.”
Booker scored three points and grabbed six rebounds in just 18 minutes in his preseason debut. Wittman said he thought Booker “was our best big. Running the floor, activity. Making the simple extra pass. Not trying to do too much. I was really pleased with him.”
After missing the first two weeks of training camp with a sore right knee, Booker was welcomed back with a scratch on his nose that left him bloody. “I’m getting beat up already,” Booker said with a laughed.
Booker’s cut had scabbed up but he got hit in the same area again. He doesn’t know who hit him in either situation. “I didn’t even know it was bleeding in Brazil until somebody told me,” Booker said. “Bumps and bruises. But I felt good out there. My knee felt good. I just got to get back in game shape.”
Vesely led the Wizards for the second game in a row with nine rebounds, but he was tentative offensively, as he scored just two points on 1-for-5 shooting. Wittman said Vesely was less aggressive than he’d seen last summer and in practice and spoke to him about being more assertive.
“I thought he kind of shied away from contact in the Chicago game,” Wittman said.
A 15-year veteran, Harrington has played the role as a stretch four off the bench for several years, but he doesn’t want to miss time as he continues to get settled into the scheme in Washington.
“I believe in working with the squad. I feel like it’s important for me to get out there as much as I can with them,” said Harrington, who scored nine points against Brooklyn. “We’re all learning each other’s games. I’m going to do all I can to get as much as I can.”