NBA Rumor: John Wall Injury

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Wall has been out of action since 2018-2019 season. Even though he was good to go for the Orlando bubble, he opted out of it. “I’m great. I’m 110% healthy. Just working on my body, working on my diet, those type of things right now. Just waiting to see when they’re gonna let us play next season because I’m itching,” Wall told ESPN’s Jason Fitz and Field Yates.

We can still take it from those who have been able to watch him up close throughout his recovery, like Wizards head coach Scott Brooks. In an appearance on The Sports Junkies on Monday, Brooks said his point guard is looking quite good in workouts down in Miami. “[Wall’s] in a great place, he has a great program, working out, continuing to get his rehab, his body looks great from the last time I saw him,” Brooks said. “Talking to our coach that’s with him [in Miami], he said, ‘He looks really good and he’s excited about having a lot more time before next season.’ “From the eye test, I’m excited,” he said. “[Wall’s] gonna be just as good if not better than ever.”

John Wall not returning until next season

Don’t expect Washington Wizards point guard John Wall to suit up in Orlando. While he has declared that he’s “110 percent” healthy, the five-time All-Star has repeatedly said that he isn’t going to play this season. Head coach Scott Brooks and general manager Tommy Sheppard have echoed this sentiment. Earlier this week, Wall reiterated that he won’t be back until the start of the 2020-21 campaign. “No. I won’t play at all. I’ll wait until next season,” Wall told 980 The Team’s Kevin Sheehan. “That decision has already been made. So, no, I’m not [playing].”

That was certainly the case in their latest episode, which featured Washington Wizards guard John Wall. After making five straight All-Star Games, Wall suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon and hasn’t played since December of 2018. Over the course of such a long absence, he’s become something of a forgotten man around the league. But let Wall tell it, he’s going to change that as soon as he gets back: When I’m not playing, I’m watching these guys play. Like these young guys, they killing our team and they looking at our bench and stuff. Just know I got those written down in my notes for when I come back when they start next season. I can’t wait to see them what I got, what I’m about. But I’m gonna be better than what I was before, and that’s the scary part. Damn near the whole five years I was an All-Star I played with two bone spurs in my knee and my heel. People don’t know that. They ain’t even get the best of John Wall yet, they just got a clip of him.

On this early March afternoon, he was participating in a routine one-on-one drill. The ball had swung around the perimeter and eventually would go to the ball-handler at the top of the key, who was allowed up to three dribbles to make a move. The defender — in this case, a sacrificial lamb named Garrison Mathews — would scurry inside the 3-point line, fundamentally closing out and hoping to deter a basket. “Hoping” is the operative word here. It was Wall’s turn to go. He received a pass and put the ball on the ground. One dribble, two steps and liftoff. He threw down a lefty slam glorious enough that its release today should quench any fans’ thirst for the sports world’s first new highlight in weeks.

Rehab assignments after long-term injuries occur all the time in baseball. We’ve seen it grow more common in the NBA. Stephen Curry, for example, practiced with the Warriors’ G League affiliate in early March. Wall might be the most extreme case. He spent weeks running with the Go-Go before the season paused. “That has become such an important priority for us. How can we impact John’s rehab? We’re here for him and that’s our job,” Richman said. “Our job is to be in service of the Wizards and take care of our players and develop them.”

John Will will not play this season no matter what

Despite the late-season break, don’t count on Wall to appear on the court during the 2019-20 campaign. The original plan the team and Wall had set remains unchanged: He will stay on the sideline during his 10th NBA season in an effort to fully recover from a left Achilles’ tendon injury suffered in January 2019. “We’ve said all along that we can’t wait until John plays next season, and I think that will still be our attitude and our stance,” Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard said in a recent interview. “We’re very anxious to see John Wall in uniform next year. I don’t think any of this changes that.”

Barring something unexpected, we won’t see John Wall in an NBA game for another seven months as he continues to take the long road back from a ruptured Achilles. The Wizards are being extra patient with him, knowing the nature of his injury and the stakes of his recovery, with a lot of money remaining on his contract. And when he comes back, expectations should probably be set accordingly. He is coming off a very serious injury, especially for a point guard whose game centers around speed and quickness.

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks, though, has already seen enough behind closed doors to express some encouraging optimism. He believes Wall is going to eventually be the same player he was before his surgery. “He’s putting his work in. He hasn’t played a lot of 5-on-5, but he’s played enough to see that he’s going to be just fine,” Brooks said. “He’s going to be the John that we all love. He’s going to be one of the best point guards in the league when he comes back.”

Brooks went on to say that Wall is in good shape, that his “conditioning has been great.” That is one of the areas he is continuing to work on after missing so much time. Wall himself has said that he needs to work himself into game shape before returning, that running and dunking are only part of the equation. So, the fact his conditioning is also getting close to normal is an excellent sign. Brooks, though, reiterated Wall’s unlikelihood to play this season. “He’s close, but the season is winding down,” Brooks said.

While addressing Bradley Beal, Sheppard pointed out how Beal’s life would be easier “when he gets John back next year.” That prompted a follow-up and Sheppard explained why no one should expect Wall to play until the start of next season. “I think we have maintained that all along. We didn’t plan on seeing him this year. I think that’s fair to John, to manage the expectations for him,” Sheppard said. “He’s on his way, but he’s not there and he’s not close yet. He’s a lot closer than he was a year ago when the injury happened.”

No matter when you come back, you’re gonna have to build your physique back up. You’ll have to build it back up physically. You’ll be at whatever percentage health you are, and then you’ll get a little better. A month later, a little better. And so on. How much are you gonna depend on your mind vs. your speed? John Wall: But that’s why I’m taking my time so much and not coming back, because I don’t wanna be on a minutes restriction or do those types of things. I’m just trying to let my body heal, so when I do come back, if I gotta (play) 35 minutes, then I will. But the one thing with me is that when I come back from surgery, I don’t think about that. Since I’ve been on the basketball court, I haven’t thought about my Achilles one time.

Wall: And people (are) like, ‘Why don’t you? Aren’t you worried?’ I’m not worried, because they said when it’s healed, it’s healed. I’m gonna play basketball. So like, if I come back, I’m not gonna be the one like, ‘Oh shit. I gotta do this. I gotta do that.’ No. Play the way you play. Make adjustments with what you’ve seen and what you’ve worked on and developed to help your game, help the team. But I’m still gonna play basketball the way I know how to play.

John Wall making progress with injury recovery

Washington Wizards head coach Scott Brooks joined “The Sports Junkies” on 106.7 The Fan in DC on Tuesday and talked about some of the progress Wall is making in his recovery from the torn Achilles tendon. “He’s running, he’s jumping, he’s shooting. He’s shooting the lights out. That’s the good thing about an injury like he’s had — all you have to do is shoot. He’s looking good,” Brooks told “The Sports Junkies.” “Still lots of work to be done, but he has the right mindset. I anticipate him coming back and being as good as ever.”

Kevin Durant, now 31, is out with a torn Achilles. The Nets owe him $164,255,700 over the next four years. John Wall, now 29, is out with a torn Achilles. The Wizards owe him $171,131,520 over the next four years. Yet, Brooklyn is viewed to have a bright future in large part due to Durant. Washington is viewed to have a grim outlook in large part due to Wall. Wizards owner Ted Leonsis called out the dichotomy. Leonsis on The Habershow: “Why is everyone so positive – Kevin Durant has the same injury as John Wall and is older.”

Nowadays, things are much better for Wall. He is doing on-court work at the Wizards’ practice facility. He can shoot jumpers and do individual ball-handling and passing drills. He can jog and lift weights. After months of waiting to just have his walking boot come off, Wall is very appreciative to simply be able to do anything on the basketball court. “Just to do the ball-handling and be able to shoot and do the weight-lifting, that’s a great aspect [of my progress]. It makes it easier for me because I’m in a great space where it’s fun,” he said.

Wall can admit now after the fact it was a difficult time for him. “I’ve just put in a lot of hard work,” he said. “For me to be where I’m at right now, with all the setbacks and infections and then finding out my Achilles was ruptured and then going through another infection, it was like ‘man, when can I ever get past that point of just getting out of the boot and walking?'” What made that last part particularly frustrating was where Wall makes his offseason home. He summers in Miami, a place notorious for its humidity. “I was in Miami during the summertime in a boot. Like, man, I don’t want to be in hot Miami in a boot, sweating,” he said.

What about the other scenario, with the Heat taking on both Wall and Beal with the understanding that Miami wouldn’t need to give up nearly as much quality in return? As we reported in early July, that scenario has been seriously discussed inside the Heat and there’s sentiment to do that, because of how much the Heat loves Beal and because of the internal belief that Miami can get Wall back to All-Star level following his ruptured Achilles, which is expected to sideline him this upcoming season.

Durant’s familiarity and comfort level with the Nets medical staff was a major determining factor in him ultimately signing a deal to come to Brooklyn. While most critics are scoffing at the thought of Durant seeing the hardwood this upcoming season, according to Weinfeld, Durant’s chances are exceedingly better than that of injured Wizards star John Wall’s. “A point guard plays a different kind of game than Kevin Durant does,” noted Dr. Weinfeld. “An explosive type athlete, his demand is different than that of Kevin Durant’s. You talk about odds of coming back to where he was, I think Durant’s odds are better than an athlete like John Wall whose whole game is quickness and explosiveness. He [Wall] counts much more on those muscles being exactly where they need to be as opposed to a player like Durant and his style.

While many expect not to see either Wall or Durant until the 2020-2021 season, Dr. Weinfeld is confident that Durant can return to the player fans saw lead the Warriors to two championships, three straight finals appearances, and dominate the NBA as a two-time Finals MVP and league MVP. “I think he’ll probably be somewhere between 90 and 100 percent,” stated Dr. Weinfeld. “That’s my thought assuming everything goes smoothly and he doesn’t have any setbacks I think you can expect somehwere in the 90 to 100 percent range.”

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.”

With that in mind, Leonsis is taking the long view. He wants Wall and the Wizards to get his rehab right, no matter how long it takes. “John understands his commitment will show from this rehab,” Leonsis told NBC Sports Washington on the Wizards Talk podcast. “If it takes the whole season, we don’t care. We are not putting pressure on you on a time. “Make sure that you are rehabilitating in the right way so that when you do come back, you don’t have that little voice in your head [saying] ‘did I do everything the right way to be able to come back and be a great, great player?'”

From a distance, Arenas has watched as Wall has endured multiple knee surgeries and, now, a pair of Achilles surgeries that ended his 2018-19 season and could end his 2019-20 season before it begins. He knows Wall. He knows the franchise. He knows the fans. And he knows the media pressure and inevitable story lines. His message to Wall, who inherited the Wizards from him as the top pick in the 2010 draft, is this: The prospect of another long-term rehabilitation might be excruciating and the injuries might require adjustments, but your career isn’t over. “John Wall is still going to be a valuable point guard,” Arenas said, by phone from Las Vegas where he attended the Big 3 draft Wednesday. “He will still have his IQ. His speed is going to be there. He might lose some jumping ability. He’s still going to be better than above-average, better than Ricky Rubio and Lonzo Ball. Why do people want to get rid of him? For what? A lesser player? Because that’s what you’re going to get.”

A person close to Wall said this injury, dismaying as it is, is what he probably needed to “grow up” some more. Nothing like the prospect of facing basketball mortality to inspire some maturity. Wall said he’s spent his time away from the game to enjoy the time he gets to share with his infant son, Ace. He’s also gained a greater appreciation for the game and what it has provided for him and his family. And, he’s been bathing in the words of his detractors. “Just hearing what people say, that just keeps my fuel going,” Wall said. “I read all the articles. It’s over. His career is over. All that type of stuff. So, it’s fun for me.”

John Wall has a history of trying to play through pain. His latest setback is forcing the Washington Wizards guard to take a different approach. “I guess God is telling me something,” Wall said Friday night about the ruptured Achilles tendon that will force him to miss at least the majority of the 2019-20 season. “To sit down and get yourself fully healthy. I’ve played through injuries my whole career. I know a lot of people who played through injuries and don’t sit down. That’s one thing I don’t like to do. If something that’s nagging or not broken, I want to play. I guess it kind of caught up to me.”

But Wall, whose $170 million “supermax” contract extension kicks starting next season, is optimistic about his future. “All the people that talk negative like ‘You’re not coming back,’ that just motivates me even more,” Wall said. Wall suffered the Achilles injury after slipping and falling at home. “I understand I had an infection and getting off antibiotics, I felt like something wasn’t going right,” Wall said. “I slipped, but I don’t think that’s the main reason. … My pain was still the same. I didn’t have discomfort.”

He hasn’t yet spoken with reporters since the team announced his surgery, but the press release stated that Wall suffered the ruptured Achilles “slipping and falling in his home.” Dr. Douoguih said on the conference call that the slip occurred while getting into the shower Jan. 29. Wall informed Douoguih about the fall, but doctors didn’t realize he had ruptured the Achilles in the moment. Douoguih discovered it Monday while performing an exploratory surgery to treat an infection that resulted from the initial surgery to remove the bone spurs, which Wall underwent on Jan. 8.

Wall, who already had season-ending surgery on his left heel on Jan. 8, will be sidelined for about the next 12 months after rupturing his left Achilles tendon on Tuesday. The Wizards said that Wall slipped and fell at his home last week. So, Cousins spoke with Wall on Tuesday morning. “It sucks. It’s unfortunate,” said Cousins who injured his left Achilles tendon last season with the New Orleans Pelicans. “But me knowing John as well as I do, I know he’ll overcome this. There’s no doubt in my mind about that. He’s overcome a lot more obstacles in his life. Just add this to the list.”
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