CAPITOL HEIGHTS, MD. -- John Wall says he's ready to listen to the Wizards' medical staff, like actually listen.
It's not that he has completely ignored them in the past, but he will admit that over the years he has pushed back at times. He has played through pain when they told him not to and has rushed back from injuries.
Wall, though, is currently dealing with the most serious injury of his career, an Achilles tear that required surgery in February. He is going to miss most of next season at a minimum. He could miss the entire year.
In some ways it sounds like the Wizards are preparing for that to be the case. Managing partner Ted Leonsis said last month Wall will "probably" miss all of next season. And there are many within the organization that do not expect Wall to return until 2020-21.
Wall, in all likelihood, will be ready to return by the end of next season. The prescribed rehab for his surgery is 11 to 15 months. He could spend over 13 months recovering and still make it back in time to play a few games by the time 2019-20 is over.
Missing all of next season and returning at the start of 2020-21 would be about 20 months after his surgery. Many players have returned in about half that time, around 10 months.
Basically, him sitting out all of next season would be an extra level of precaution. That may be a tough reality for Wall to accept if he feels ready to come back.
But if the Wizards say that's what they want, that's what he plans to do.
"I'm not willing to, but that's what the doctor says and that's what the team says," Wall said of possibly sitting out all of next year.
"To have an organization that cares for me and understands me and respects me, that is not trying to force me to come back super early, that's the most important thing."
What may force a difficult decision for the Wizards is the fact Wall is already progressing quickly through his rehab. Leonsis even remarked that he's ahead of schedule.
Wall recently started jogging and has done some light on-court basketball workouts. He's already six months into his recovery. By some measures, he is past the halfway point.
According to Five Thirty Eight, the historical average recovery time for an Achilles tear is 269 days, or nearly nine months. Some examples include Rudy Gay who took 273 days, Chauncey Billups who took 296 days and DeMarcus Cousins who took 357.
Cousins' recovery was on the longer end. A similar timeline for Wall would have him back in late January.
Wall, though, has different stakes than just about anyone who has had the injury before. For one, he is a point guard with a game dependent on speed and quickness. And secondly, he is about to begin a four-year, $170 million supermax contract.
Though missing all of next season would make his $38.2 million salary an eyesore, it could be worth the patience if he can return anywhere close to 100 percent and justify the remaining $131.8 million he's owed for the following three seasons. The Wizards have invested a ton of money in Wall and want to make sure they get this rehab right.
Wall seems to understand that the Wizards taking the longview is with his best interest in mind. He will just have to remind himself of that throughout the process and especially in January, February, and March if he feels like is getting close to 100 percent.
There could be some tough conversations. Twenty months is a long time off the court and away from the limelight.
As much as Wall seems willing to wait, he also clearly feels some urgency to prove his critics wrong.
"Everybody is talking like I have the worst contract in the NBA. That's fine," he said.
"When I was playing, everybody was saying I deserve that. Now that I'm injured, they say I don't deserve it. So, all those critics that keep talking? Keep that same energy in a couple years."
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