Nene returned from Brazil early Thursday morning and immediately joined his teammates for shootaround at Verizon Center, where the Wizards prepared to take on the New York Knicks on Thursday night at Baltimore Arena.
Nene’s status for the game remains uncertain, but he is unlikely to play after spending the past four days back in his native country to visit his father, Jose Paulo Hilario, who is battling a serious illness. When the Wizards lost to Chicago in the first-ever NBA exhibition in South America, Nene was joined by his mother, Carmen, and other family members and friends, but his father was unable to attend.
Nene missed the Wizards’ 100-82 win over the Miami Heat on Tuesday as he stayed behind in Brazil. As he walked out the gym after Thursday’s shootaround in sweats and with a rag covering his dreadlocks, Nene leaned down and embraced Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld.
“It was good to have him back,” Wizards forward Martell Webster said of Nene. “You could definitely see he had some pain in his eyes. You know him having to be down there with his family and his father going through what he has to go through. It’s good to have him back and we welcome him with open arms. Let him know we’re here for him. But it’s always good to have one of your family members back.”
If Nene is unable to go again, Kevin Seraphin will likely get another start at center.
“It don’t really matter, because I’ve been here for three years. I know one day you start, one day you don’t start,” Seraphin said. “I’m not really paying attention to that anymore. The most important thing is to be on the court and try to help the team the most.”
Seraphin had just two points in 21 minutes against the Heat as Coach Randy Wittman relied heavily on a small lineup. Miami has an unconventional front line, but the Knicks will have some size with former defensive player of the year Tyson Chandler.
Although he had his lowest scoring total of the preseason, Seraphin was able to reduce his turnovers from an average of four in the first two games to just two. He also made better passes out of double-teams and had two assists.
“It’s all part of the maturation process for him,” Webster said of Seraphin. “He’s gotten better every year and this year, more the focal point of him passing out of the double-team because teams are doubling him and how he reacts to that, making the right pass out of that, has helped us. He took a big step in that Miami game. He started off a little rough but we continued to encourage him and motivate him and he showed some signs and some breakthroughs throughout that game.”
Seraphin focused on passing out of double-teams during his workouts with Wizards coaches last summer. “Keep working on it. Keep working on it, because it’s not bothering like before,” he said.
Serpahin was also excited to welcome back Nene. “He’s a big part of the team. It’s good,” Seraphin said. “Now he’s here and we can keep going and now, go forward.”
On Wednesday, the Wizards waived center D’or Fischer.