ORLANDO -- A key component for the Wizards if they're going to advance past the conference semifinals this season, Jared Dudley was noticeably absent from the opener and doesn't expect to play much -- if at all -- in Friday's game at the Milwaukee Bucks (CSN+ and NBC Sports Live Extra, 8 p.m. ET).
Dudley, who had lower back surgery to repair a bulging disk in July, played in the final two preseason games. He played a total of 27 minutes and shot just 2 of 8. He was active in Wednesday's 88-87 win at the Magic but didn't play. Instead, coach Randy Wittman played Otto Porter 37 minutes and went with multiple three-guard lineups.
"I was not surprised because the biggest thing for me is getting my legs so there’s no rust or stuff like that," said Dudley, who was acquired by the Wizards in a deal with Milwaukee. "I wouldn’t be surprised if this went on for another week, then after that that gets three, four or five more practices, we can get a couple days or rest and I can see me slowly working in."
In Dudley's only season with the Bucks in 2014-15, he averaged 7.2 points and 3.1 rebounds. He made 22 starts on a playoff team, going from 15 wins to 41 in coach Jason Kidd's first year.
"It was the worst team in the NBA the year before and went to the playoffs. Most of the guys are still on that team. Only me and Zaza (Pachulia) were guys that had left. I want them to do well," said Dudley, who spent one season with the L.A. Clippers before that when he started 43 games. "I had a great one year compared to my one year in L.A., me being hurt, playing like some (expletive) that last year was my, ‘Hey, Jared’s back.’ It’s good for me now. They looked out for me, traded me here. They didn’t have to. They didn’t get anything. I salute them and I will always talk good about them. If there’s ever was an opportunity to go back I would."
The Bucks were trounced in their season-opener by the New York Knicks, 122-97. But they were without Giannis Antetokounmpo (suspended) and still don't have Jabari Parker, who is recovering from a knee ligament tear from last season.
Both play positions that Dudley is accustomed to and being older and less athletic he knew his time was to leave Milwaukee, who received a traded-player exception in the deal.
"I was on the outside looking in. It was hard to get in. I might’ve gotten spot minutes," Dudley said. "Here’s there’s an opportunity to be able to play more and be on a better team."