WASHINGTON -- This Sunday, Jan. 12 is a significant milestone in Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall's recovery from the surgery he had to repair his ruptured left Achilles tendon.

It will mark 11 months since he had the procedure, for which an 11-to-15 month rehab timeline is generally prescribed. Though the Wizards have preached patience throughout Wall's road back, giving all indications he may not even play this season at all, it remains an important mile-marker for his injury.

In conversations with multiple people within the Wizards' organization who are familiar with his recovery, the message remains the same. The Wizards are prepared for the event Wall does not return this season, though they will ultimately not rule out the possibility.

The latest for Wall, NBC Sports Washington has learned, is playing in three-on-three scrimmages against members of the player development staff. He began those drills earlier this week.

It's a notable step in Wall's recovery, which had recently progressed from running and dunking to one-on-one contact drills with coaches. He has been traveling with the Wizards and going through pregame warm-up routines both at home and away games.

Wall's latest milestone is being monitored closely. The team gives him two-to-three days off between the three-on-three sessions. And they take further precaution by holding him out of Wizards shootarounds, which he could technically participate in at this point.

How long Wall will remain out from here is still not certain, but one thing has been made abundantly clear and that is the team's success will have no bearing on his timeline. That goes both ways. If the Wizards start building momentum towards qualifying for the playoffs, the team will not take that into consideration and bring him back sooner than they otherwise would. And conversely, if they fade further out of the postseason mix, it does not mean Wall is less likely to return this season.

 

"I don't know if he's going to play this year. I don't know if he's not going to play," head coach Scott Brooks told NBC Sports Washington. "I just know that he's going to take every day and make the best of it. When you do that, you eventually come back the way you need to be."

Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard has said on numerous occasions the Wizards are not paying much attention to the calendar when it comes to Wall's rehab. They want to take every extra precaution possible to ensure his long-term health and the investment they have made in him with a supermax contract worth $170 million that kicked in this season.

But keeping Wall out for this entire season would push his recovery timeline to 20 total months if he were to then return at the beginning of the 2020-21 campaign. That is an unusually long period of time for the injury he had, nearly twice as long as other players have required.

That reality led to the team being denied a disabled player exception for Wall this season. An independent doctor was unable to determine he would be out until at least June of this year.
Wall has also put his progress on display publicly by working out before games. He has thrown down a series of dunks that make it seem like he is not too far away from returning.

The most direct comments on his expected return date, however, came from chairman Ted Leonsis over the summer. At a press conference, Leonsis declared Wall would "probably won't play at all" this season. Many members of the organization, including coaches and players, are operating as if they won't have Wall back this season.

"It's moving in the right direction. We don't know one way or another," Brooks said. "We just know that he's relentless in his work and he's diligent in his treatments and his rehab. You've gotta pile those days with a one-day-at-a-time mentality."

There is another element worth mentioning. Wall took time off to grieve the passing of his mother in December and that adjusted his timeline slightly. He was away from the team and had to then ramp his work-outs up again.

Perhaps that can alter the way the 11-to-15 month timeline is viewed. Either way, Wall is entering territory where a return can soon be expected more often than not.

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