The Wizards officially open training camp Tuesday at Towson University. Jared Dudley's true on-court presence won't occur for a bit longer, but he's making progress from back surgery in July.
Approximately 10 weeks removed from surgery, Dudley anticipates being given clearance for full contact in two weeks. The initial time frame had him missing 3-4 months. Washington opens the season Oct. 28 in Orlando.
"Health is really good. I expect to do 70-80 percent here at camp," Dudley said at Monday's media day on the Verizon Center practice court . "Me being out there in December, I'll be out here way before then. To me it's hopefully right on schedule for the season [opener] or at least early November."
Once he's back in the mix, Dudley becomes a key member of Washington's rotation. After serving in something of a big brother role for the youthful Milwaukee Bucks, the 6-foot-7 forward with a quality 3-point shot can focus on being a complimentary piece with the Wizards. Washington capped a 46-win regular season by sweeping Toronto in the opening round of the playoffs before losing to Atlanta in six games.
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"For me it's huge because it's a team already playoff tested," Dudley said of joining the Wizards. "They already have good vets here. I've played with [center Marcin] Gortat. There's an established point guard with John Wall."
The eight-year veteran averaged 7.2 points and 3.1 rebounds in 72 games for the Bucks last season. The real interesting number involves 3-point shooting, Dudley sank an impressive 38.5 percent of his 192 attempts from beyond the arc during the regular season and then went wild during the playoffs, draining 8 of 14. That's an element Washington lacked during the regular season from the power forward spot. To paraphrase a notable ex-Wizard, that's why they brought Dudley here.
"For me, it's just do what I do," Dudley said. "Blend in, be a good role player, help this team in little spots and have some fun. I'm excited."
As a fellow NBA head coach, Scott Brooks understands what Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers is going through. As his former teammate, Ramon Sessions knows how tough Lue is.
Both members of the Wizards shared their reactions after Monday's practice to the news Lue is stepping away from the Cavs to deal with a health issue. Both expressed hope Lue will not be out long as the NBA continues its trek towards the playoffs.
"All of our thoughts are with him," Brooks said. "You hope that it's nothing serious. Health is the most important [thing]. The game is secondary."
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"Prayers out to T-Lue," said Sessions, who played with Lue in Milwaukee. "It's one of those things where you've gotta take care of yourself at the end of the day. Him stepping away is the best thing."
Lue's illness has been a mystery to doctors, according to a statement he released on the Cavaliers' website. He has dealt with chest pains and other symptoms while also struggling to sleep. The hope is that having time off will allow him to get the rest he needs.
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Brooks knows firsthand how difficult it is to get sleep during the regular season as a coach.
"You just have to figure out ways to get your rest. Some days are better than others. Sometimes you think after a good win you can have a good night's rest or sometimes it's the opposite. It's just hard to get rest. You're traveling in different timezones. You are emotional after games. You eat late. There are a lot of factors that go into it. We don't have a set schedule every night. I have a good staff and I rely on them," he said.
Lue, 40, will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim. The Cavs happen to be in a tight playoff race with the Wizards and other teams in the Eastern Conference battling for position.
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On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, host Chase Hughes was joined by Bullets/Wizards legend Phil Chenier ahead of his jersey retirement set for this upcoming weekend on March 23.
Chenier looked back on his playing and broadcasting career and told great stories. He also shared some memories of the 1978 championship as the franchise gets ready to honor its 40th anniversary.
You can listen to the episode right here:
You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!