By Rob Mahoney
After an 0-9 start and a flirtation with historically awful offensive marks, the Washington Wizards are finally set for some long overdue reinforcements. Per Michael Lee of the Washington Post, Nene -- who was acquired by the Wizards at last season's trade deadline but missed about half of the Washington's 20 remaining games -- is inching toward a return to the lineup:
After participating in the past three practices, Nene is getting closer to making a return, depending on how his body -- and his problematic left foot, in particular -- responds.
Coach Randy Wittman has deflected questions about when Nene will return. Since Nene has a pain threshold injury that has limited him for almost three months, the Wizards are leaving it up to him to get back. Although Nene said last week that he was “probably three weeks away,” he could return Wednesday in Atlanta or Saturday against Charlotte.
Nene won't instantly right the ship, but he could eventually give Washington a solid back-to-the-basket option from which to create more sensible offense. Whether or not Randy Wittman and the Wizards actually use Nene in that capacity is as of yet unknown, but another viable and efficient offensive player can only make things better for the lowest-scoring team in basketball. No one should expect too much of Nene too soon, but his return to the court is a nice gain for a team so badly in need of a boost.
John Wall's recovery, on the other hand, is hardly as imminent. From Lee's report:
Wittman also doesn’t have a timetable for Wall, only that he won’t be back [on Wednesday] against the Hawks.We're still a week or so away from the conclusion of Wall's initial eight-week recovery projection, and Wall doesn't appear to be particularly close to actually playing in an NBA game again anytime soon, much less exhibiting the explosion and confidence that are so crucial to his game. The Wizards' offensive struggles will undoubtedly continue in the meantime, with Nene or without; Wall is about the only thing that can offer Washington a shred of offensive dignity at this point, and thus the misery will roll on until his return to the court is actually in sight.
“Everything is good,” Wittman said of Wall. “Went to the doctor, things are progressing. No setbacks, no things that look differently. Things are moving in the right direction in terms of what they are seeing, the doctors. Each day he’s taking the step of increased rehab work. Nothing on the floor, but that’s a good thing.”