WASHINGTON -- When the Wizards depart for Denver on Sunday afternoon, they will go on the road for the first time this season with Rui Hachimura. The third-year forward has been slowly working his way into game shape after a long absence due to personal reasons and this represents yet another small step towards his return.
Hachimura may be a popular guy on the plane because on Friday he gifted each of his teammates a new G-Shock watch, part of his signature line. Hachimura placed the watches in their lockers at the Wizards practice facility in Southeast Washington as a surprise for when they arrived.
"This is my first watch since high school. It’s the Rui Hachimura G-Shock and I’m loving it," Anthony Gill said. "I’m gonna wear it every single day. Rui’s a great guy and I think he’s really going to help out our team so much in ways other than on the court."
Gill actually deserves some credit for the gift. He said he saw Hachimura wearing one at a recent game and mentioned it would be a nice present for the holidays.
"I went up to him and said ‘man, that’s a nice watch.’ He was like ‘this is my watch, Rui Hachimura.’ Well, don’t be selfish, like, share the wealth," Gill joked. "He said ‘okay, I’ll get it for everybody for Christmas.’ So, he blessed us with this watch and we’re all thankful for it."
Unseld Jr. also shared more about Hachimura's progress after Friday's practice. Though he's still limited with contact, Unseld Jr. said he hopes Hachimura will be able to begin playing 5-on-5 within the "next couple weeks." This coming week, he said it's possible Hachimura will begin playing 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 against teammates.
Hachimura has done 1-on-1 drills and with some contact, but against player development coaches. It remains a slow and steady process and he still has no definitive timeline to return.
But having Hachimura back around the team, and now getting set to travel, has everyone excited about his impending return.
"I’m glad you brought Rui up. It’s really good to have him back, man," Gill said. "His spirit in the practices is unbelievable, his spirit just around the facility is amazing. He’s going through his own personal things, but every day he steps in here you wouldn’t be able to tell because he just carries that professionalism on his shoulders and he’s just a great all-around teammate."