This was definitely not the start to the season the Washington Wizards were looking for.
The Wizards were counting on growth and maturation from John Wall, their blindingly quick point guard whom they believe is destined for NBA stardom. But the team announced Friday that Wall has a stress injury in his left knee and will be out eight weeks.
Wall felt pain in the knee and had an MRI on Thursday in New York that revealed the early stages of a non-traumatic stress injury. He does not need surgery and will begin rehabilitation immediately, the team said.
“We’re all disappointed for John after how hard he worked this summer and how excited he was to begin training camp, but we feel fortunate that we caught the injury early and that he will be able to return with the vast majority of the season still in front of us,” Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said in a statement. ”In the meantime, we’re confident that the versatility and depth of our team will help us move forward and continue the positive momentum that we’ve seen over the past several months.”
At last season’s trading deadline, the Wizards acquired Nene from Denver and went 7-4 with him in the lineup. They traded the cumbersome contract of Rashard Lewis to New Orleans for veterans Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza and drafted shooting guard Bradley Beal from Florida.
The Wizards are counting on Wall – a tremendous talent who often plays out of control – to direct what should be an improved offense. The top overall pick in the 2010 draft has averaged 16.3 points and 8.2 assists in his first two seasons. But he also has committed 516 turnovers, a total surpassed only by Russell Westbrook.
“My teammates and I are all excited to build on the improvement we made at the end of last season, and I know they will continue to make great progress while I get through this setback,” Wall said in a statement. “I will work extremely hard to make sure I get back as soon as possible so I can rejoin them and help our team continue to improve.”
Training camp starts Tuesday for the Wizards, who open the regular season Oct. 30 at Cleveland. Under the timetable given by the team, Wall should return by late November, missing about a month of the season.
With Wall sidelined, point guard moves from an exclamation point to a question mark for the Wizards. The other point guards on the roster are career backup A.J. Price, who played behind George Hill and Darren Collison in Indiana last season, and Shelvin Mack, who showed very little as a rookie last season.