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Nene's foot injury puts early games in doubt


Nene's foot injury puts early games in doubt

The 2012-13 Washington Wizards have two prominent players in John Wall and Nene. They are the kind of talents worthy of receiving odds, long as they may be, for the NBA's Most Valuable Player award as they were this week.

Neither has been healthy enough for a training camp practice nor seen a second of preseason action. Wall, the speed of sound running point guard figures to miss at least the first month of the season with a right knee stress injury, the kind of ailment that includes a bit of wait and see approach.

Yet at least there is some definition to his timetable. As for Nene, he of the plantar fasciitis issue with his left foot, not so much, no matter whom you ask.

First up following the Wizards' Friday practice, Wizards coach Randy Wittman. Any update on your high-priced starting center?

"I don’t," Wittman said before the team set off for Saturday's game at Milwaukee. Nene, Wall and Kevin Seraphin (calf) will all remain behind.

"[The trainers] are going to tell me when it’s time to get [Nene] on the floor. That’s when I see him down on the floor, to be honest with you. He’s amping up, doing more and more what he can do in terms of with the training staff."

This week Nene visited a foot specialist in Baltimore, receiving electric stimulation therapy.

"He went to Baltimore and they liked what they saw and the progress he’s been making. And that’s all I can really go on in terms of that," Wittman said, providing no authoritative answer on this particular topic less than two weeks before the regular season tips off.

Next, we, as in the media, turned to the 30-year Brazilian big man himself, looking for anything in the ballpark of a definitive response about his return. Forget playing in any of the three remaining preseason games; how about the Oct. 30 regular season opener in Cleveland?

"I’m not going to say," Nene said. "That’s the reason I don’t say. I don’t know. I want to, but sometimes it does not go the way you want. I just want to make sure I’m healthy to help my team because if I sit down again, that’s not good."

No, that would not be good.

"I’m getting there, man. I believe I’m making progress," Nene said. "I was a little behind than I thought. It’s still enflamed. I just want to take care of it the right way. But all the exercises, I’ve been doing fine. I’ve been listening. I’ve been obedient. That’s what I can say to you.

"Now, time, I just want to make sure I’m 100 percent because I don’t want this kind of injury again on a season."

Acquired last season from Denver, Nene missed 14 of 25 games including a stretch of 10 straight with foot issues. The gregarious center with the high quality low post game also helped change the team's vibe, approach on and off court. Washington won eight of its final 10 games last season. Even while sidelined during the preseason, Nene has been a vocal presence during practices and sitting on the bench.

Considering being in game shape is another matter altogether, could we see Nene against the Cavaliers if he were to miss the entire preseason?

"That’s up to him," Wittman said. "I can’t tell a player when to play and when not to. It depends on which practice situation obviously. He’s got to get on the floor and do things at full speed before I would put him out there. I can’t tell a player when he’s ready. That’s up to the player."

For now, we're left to wonder how long until Nene can help this year's squad win games while actually being on the court. All guesses welcomed.

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: John Wall goes 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, celebrity softball and the Summer League


Wizards Tipoff podcast: John Wall goes 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, celebrity softball and the Summer League

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, John Wall went 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, the celebrity softball game and the Summer League.

Chase Hughes and Chris Miller broke down the parallels between Wall and Harper and why Wall has chosen to stay loyal to Washington in his own contract decisions. Plus, can the Wizards really tone down the talking this season?

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!

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Kawhi Leonard going to the Raptors may actually be good news for the Wizards and the East

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Kawhi Leonard going to the Raptors may actually be good news for the Wizards and the East

Through nearly three weeks of NBA free agency and almost a month of trades, the Eastern Conference had remained eerily quiet. The Wizards had arguably been the most aggressive team in the East, as all the biggest moves had occurred in the West and, most notably, LeBron James changed coasts.

That all changed on Wednesday as the Toronto Raptors pulled off a trade with the San Antonio Spurs to land Kawhi Leonard, a two-time defensive player of the year. The full deal includes All-NBA guard DeMar DeRozan going to San Antonio along with big man Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first round pick. The Raptors also get guard Danny Green, according to ESPN.

Here are some takeaways from the trade...

This is good, potentially great news for the Wizards

The worst-case scenario for the Wizards and most of the East would have been if Leonard got dealt to either the Sixers or Celtics, as the potential would have been there for a dominant team. The Sixers, in particular, could have conceivably traded for Leonard without giving up much in the way of pieces that can help them now. They would have teamed Leonard with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid and would probably be the favorites to reach the NBA Finals. Instead, the Sixers struck out and now face the prospect of taking a pretty big L on this offseason, given all the guys they were tied to going into it.

Leonard and the Raptors will be good and they may even be better than they were last season. Though the Raptors won 59 games in the regular season, they disappointed in the playoffs. Leonard could change that, but he won't have the help to make them an unstoppable force. Kyle Lowry is good, but he's an aging player and they don't have a third star, at least not yet. They have a lot of recent first round picks that could, in theory, make the leap.

This deal is good for the Wizards and could become great if Leonard leaves in free agency next summer. If he does, the Raptors will be in deep trouble.

What will the Lakers do?

When James signed with the Lakers, most assumed they would then add at least one star to run with him. But now that Leonard is going to Toronto, it's very possible they don't add one at all. James might actually have to play with Lonzo Ball in addition to Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee. Sure, they can sign Leonard next summer or find another star then, but this is shaping up as of now to be a lost year for James.

As consistitued, they aren't winning anything of substance. It's just so surprising James would be cool with this level of talent around him considering what he could have done this season if he signed with Philly or some other team.

People are looking at the wrong contract

Much of the instant reaction to the Leonard trade was praise for the Raptors in ridding themselves of DeRozan's deal. That's a headscratcher. DeRozan is set to make over $27 million in the next three years, the third being a player option, but he's an All-NBA player who turns 29 next month. In the context of NBA contracts, that isn't too bad.

Lowry's contract, on the other hand, is borderline awful. He's 32 with his numbers heading in the wrong direction and he's due to make $31 million next season and $33.3 million the year after. It's not like the Raptors freed themselves of their worst deal.

Masai is making moves

This is a risk for the Raptors and you have to respect it. Their general manager, Masai Ujiri, had seen enough of the DeRozan-Lowry duo falling short in the playoffs. He fired head coach Dwane Casey and pulled off a trade for Leonard, who at his best is one of the premier players in the NBA.

There is considerable risk in this move with Leonard having missed 73 games last season with a quadriceps injury and given the fact he can opt to test free agency next summer. If he really does want to join the Lakers, he could leave the Raptors empty-handed.

But it's a risk that is probably worth taking. Everyone assumed the same future for Paul George and he ended up staying in Oklahoma City. It's not a guarantee Leonard leaves and now the Raptors have a year to convince him to stay. Ujiri should get praise for this deal because it's bold and he did one of the hardest things a GM can do in finding a top-5 talent for his team.

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