Two days after straining his right hamstring in San Antonio, Trevor Ariza dragged his leg and moved gingerly down the hallway by the Wizards’ locker room after practice. While an MRI on Thursday made the team encouraged about his prospects for a speedy recovery, Ariza will not play on Saturday when the Wizards host the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“He’s going to probably miss a couple of games here. That’s what I’m anticipating. What that entails – is it a week? – I don’t know,” Coach Randy Wittman said. “He had a little bit of swelling. That’s the main thing you want to see get out first. And get a better gauge of day to day, where he’s at and how he’s feeling, the strain that he had.”
Ariza was off to a solid start this season, averaging 14.8 points per game and shooting 40 percent from beyond three-point range. He also ranked ninth in the NBA in steals at 2.13 per game.
“Somebody is going to step up in his position and for sure we’re going to have to cover this gap,” Nene said, “because Trevor was very important, offensively and defensively and his mentality, leadership. I told him, we’re going to miss him now. But we can do nothing. We can only do our best and play together. That’s it.”
Martell Webster will step into the starting lineup in place of Ariza and is coming off scoring a season-high 21 points against the Spurs. “I thought Martell had a good game in San Antonio, was the one guy that stay aggressive throughout and he’s capable of doing that,” Wittman said. “As we saw last year, they are both starters and it’s a nice problem to have, that you can only start one of them. Now when one gets hurt, you don’t want to see that, but if it does happen, Martell is very comfortable moving in there.”
The Wizards (2-6) might also be without veteran forward Al Harrington, who missed the loss in San Antonio with a sore right knee. Harrington also had an MRI on Thursday and said he will “probably not” be available to play against the Cavaliers.
“I was thinking about trying, getting in here, doing a little therapy to see if I can go, but not sure yet,” Harrington said. “Got some information where I got to kind of sit down and talk to the doctor on Monday. Figure out what I got to do going forward, but it includes trying to play through a little bit of something, a little situation I’ve got, but I have to wait until Monday. I think it’s just a little bit of the wear and tear and stuff I knew I was going to have to deal with anyway. But for the most part, I don’t feel great, and I want to feel great when I’m out there and that’s the best way to help the team.”
Wittman said he will look to depend on Garrett Temple and Glen Rice Jr. to back up Webster. “From a bench standpoint, I’m kind of still, we got to get better there. So, from a substitution situation, I tried to do some things different and Al went down and put a crimp in that. I’m still trying to change things and maybe get a veteran guy back with that second unit quicker than I’ve had. It’s a situation we can fix.”
With the Wizards suddenly getting weak in an area that was considered a strength, Chris Singleton is starting to get anxious to return. Singleton suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot in late September and has been able to move around in sneakers, without the assistance of crutches, for several weeks.
“Got to get back out there and help my team,” Singleton wrote on his Twitter account, @C_SING31.
Wittman isn’t ready to game plan with Singleton in mind just yet. “Again, he’s not been able to do anything on the floor,” he said. “I can’t be able to give you a good timetable until they get on the floor and I can actually see both he and Otto [Porter], where they are, not only from a physical thing coming back from an injury, but conditioning. They haven’t done anything since Sept. 13 for Otto. That’s a long time. I’d like to tell you, ‘It’s three weeks guys.’ But I don’t know what that time table is. Hopefully, it’s right around the corner. I think it’s closer that they might be able to both get on the floor here and start be able to some sort of practicing and then I can get you a better gauge.”
The Wizards will also have to lean more on Kevin Seraphin, Jan Vesely and Trevor Booker to provide some quality production. Seraphin has struggled mightily in his fourth season, averaging just 3.9 points and 1.6 rebounds, his lowest output since his rookie season.
“He just mentally got to be ready,” Wittman said of Seraphin. “Those three, if obviously Al misses some time, one of those three is going to have to step up and maybe all three at one time. That’s where I’m looking. I’m looking for somebody to show me that there is a guy that’s going to take advantage of minutes.”