On the last day of the regular season, Washington Wizards point guard John Wall needed a scooter to get to the Capital One Arena hallway and face reporters. Back in April, with his left leg protected in a brace following Achilles’ tendon surgery and bent over the cushioned padding of the scooter, Wall gave a rough projection that he would be jogging again by the end of summer.
But on Monday night, Wall, standing upright and looking trim in a pink suit jacket, shared an updated timeline for his rehabilitation.
“I’m about to start jogging in like two weeks,” he told NBC Sports Washington on the red carpet of the NBA Awards show in Santa Monica, Calif.
“Just riding the bike,” Wall said, describing his current workload. “I get to do exercises standing up now, so I don’t have to sit down. I’m able to move, do ladder steps, doing those types of things.”
For Wall, 28, to approach a mobility milestone such as jogging five months after his Achilles’ injury shows slow but steady development in a rehabilitation process that could last a year or more.
In early February, Wall, who was already out for the remainder of the 2018-19 season after surgery to remove bone spurs, ruptured his left Achilles’ in a fall at his residence, the team said. The timing and the gravity of the injury lengthened Wall’s recovery, and when the Wizards announced the news, he was “expected to return to full basketball activity in approximately 12 months from the time of the surgery.”
That timeline would force Wall to miss the majority of the 2019-20 season, with a possible return around the all-star break, which would be around the 60th game on the schedule. Still, Wall missing the entire season is not out of the realm of possibility. In early February, orthopedist Wiemi Douoguih, the Wizards’ director of medical services, said Wall’s timeline could extend beyond 12 months after the surgery. “Fifteen months is the higher end of that range,” he told reporters.
Wall, whose supermax contract will kick in next season, had surgery Feb. 12. Fifteen months from that time would be mid-May 2020.
Wall will not be the only NBA star sidelined by this injury. During Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant ruptured his right Achilles’ tendon and is expected to miss the whole year.
Despite the long road to recovery, Wall has expressed the belief that he will survive the process and return to play next season, if he’s cleared to do so.
“Just for me, it’s the same as like, people don’t understand how bad it was from my bone spur and my knee. I wasn’t supposed to come back from that the way I did, and I was supposed to be out for longer than five months and I came back. It was supposed to be eight to 10 [months],” Wall said during his exit interview in April. “So that just gives me a lot of confidence in knowing that I can come back.”
Wall has spent the majority of his offseason in Miami, but he returned to Washington in mid-June and was spotted at the team’s practice facility in Congress Heights.
Wall appeared to be in good spirits Monday. His raspy rat-a-tat cadence could be heard over all other voices as he joked with Wizards staffers following a pre-draft workout with prospects. Then, a shirtless Wall moved inside a team-only area of the facility and it was unclear whether he had spent that morning in the weight room or completing any other rehab-related exercise.
Although Wall can move freely on his own, he does not move too quickly through the laborious rehabilitation.
“Just taking my time and progressing and letting everything heal the right way,” Wall told NBC Sports Washington, “so I don’t force myself back and get another injury.”