Last Tuesday, Beal, Washington’s second leading scorer at 19.8 points per game, said he was scheduled to be reevaluated Saturday. The pain in his leg had dissipated but some remained, and he emphasized he won’t return until he is 100 percent.
Beal, 22, has substantial experience with these ailments: He has dealt with a stress injury his right fibula in each of his four NBA seasons. In each of the last two years, he has missed about three weeks before returning. If Beal, who missed three games earlier this season with a left shoulder injury, follows the same timeline, he could play as early as Friday against the Orlando Magic, though that is unlikely. Washington then hosts the Miami Heat on Jan. 3 and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 6. The Wizards are 5-3 during his absence.
When Beal does return, he’ll be placed on a minutes restriction after averaging 39.7 minutes in the seven games prior to his diagnosis. The 6-foot-4 sharpshooter has come off the bench when he’s returned from injuries in the past and that is likely again, given the production from Garrett Temple and others in his absence, but Wittman shot down the idea of having Beal become a reserve for the remainder of the season.
“No, because we’re going to have to control his minutes some when he first comes back like we have every year,” Wittman said. “We’ve never had to deal with the problem again after getting a couple weeks of limited minutes … I just think it’s a freak thing that has happened.”
Meanwhile, Wittman said Sunday that Nene and Drew Gooden III, both nursing calf strains, could return “anywhere from three or four days to two weeks” and the pair — the Wizards’ two oldest players — are “probably” out for Monday’s meeting with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Nene, 33, has not played since exiting Washington’s blowout loss against the Boston Celtics on Nov. 27 and has missed 15 games. Gooden, 34, has not played since Nov. 17 and has missed 19 games.
“They’re closer. They’re close,” Wittman said of the two big men. “That can change tomorrow. Tomorrow they can come out and not feel anything. They still feel a little something. They’re doing stuff. Running and jumping to a certain point but it’s not there.”