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Ted Leonsis maintains optimism amid harsh reality of John Wall injury

Ted Leonsis maintains optimism amid harsh reality of John Wall injury

CAPITAL ONE ARENA -- It might be quite a while before we see John Wall on the court playing for the Wizards again.

It was already well-known Wall will miss extended time as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles tendon, a rehab that usually takes at least 11 months. But it is starting to sound more and more like he won't play in the 2019-20 season at all.

Wizards managing partner Ted Leonsis shared that harsh reality on Monday during a press conference at Capital One Arena.

"Our highest-paid player, our five-time All-Star, may not play at all next year. He probably won't play at all next year," Leonsis said.

If Wall follows the general timeline for the surgery, he could come back sometime early in 2020. A 12-month recovery would have him return in early February.

If Wall missed all of next season, he would return to start the 2020-21 campaign after a 20-month recovery. That would be nearly double the rehab time many players have taken for the same injury over the years. He would be 30 years old by then.

But Wall and the Wizards have reason to be extra patient. He is entering the first season of a four-year, $170 million supermax contract. Punting the first year, even if he is making $38 million, could be worth it in the long run if it means he returns to his All-Star form.

The Wizards are also likely to have a gap year of sorts anyways. They retooled their roster with young, inexperienced players. The odds they make the playoffs this season are lower than they have been in years. The Wizards are taking the long view and they know getting Wall's rehab right is paramount.

Leonsis and team officials currently get daily reports on Wall's progress. After making the supermax investment, they are taking extra measures to ensure he is holding up his end of the bargain. The Wizards closely monitor his weight and have a rotation of physical therapists working with him every day.

If it were up to Wall, he would be more likely to return next season. The team is the side taking extra caution.

"Trust me, nobody wants to get back to the court more than John Wall," GM Tommy Sheppard told NBC Sports Washington. 

"But I've tried to manage this with him and say there is no calendar or clock that is going to tell you to come back. You're going to come back when you're 100 percent healthy. Anybody who has watched him in the playoffs play with broken hands and all of the aches and pains he's had over the years and he still showed up and played at a high, high level. You know you need to monitor him a little more than most. That's the kind of player that is going to try to sneak back on the court any time he can."

What Leonsis said publicly has been the belief behind the scenes in the Wizards organization for quite some time. They are preparing for next season as if he won't play, 

"We have to see if John Wall comes back and how he looks and how he plays," Leonsis told NBC Sports Washington. "If John Wall can come back at 80 percent the year after [in 2020-21], I would be really happy because then we would have a great, great backcourt."

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Jerome Robinson's shot the latest young player success story for the Wizards

Jerome Robinson's shot the latest young player success story for the Wizards

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards have become the land of opportunity, a place where second chances are given to NBA players too young to be considered reclamation projects. 

Shooting guard Jerome Robinson is the latest to be thrown into the mix. He was the 13th overall pick in 2018, but couldn't get minutes with the L.A. Clippers. Now he's in Washington with an opportunity that wasn't there for him when he was at the end of the bench on a title contender.

The Wizards, though, have a place and a role for him and that translated to the biggest shot of his NBA career on Wednesday night, as he made a go-ahead three with 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter to lift Washington to a 110-106 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

“I had a really good look. At that point, when I saw it was wide-open, I had to take it," Robinson said. "At that point you just got to have all the confidence and let it go.”

Robinson sank the three, then on the next possession reeled in a rebound and made two free throws after getting fouled. All within about 10 seconds, he made three plays to give the Wizards the win.

But the shot stands out above all and it was a unique situation for a player of his level of experience. Star shooting guard Bradley Beal passed him the ball and in doing so showed a lot of trust in a player who hasn't proven much at the NBA level.

Robinson, though, didn't look like he was new to the moment. He knocked it down like a pro.

"Jerome didn't hesitate," head coach Scott Brooks said. "He has a tendency to hesitate and I'm telling them, 'he who hesitates doesn’t make shots.' I like that. He caught it, had confidence, he took the shot."

Being too timid with his shots is apparently a thing for Robinson. Brooks wasn't the only one who mentioned it.

"We've been telling him all night...it was a few where he was hesitating. We didn't bring him over here for no reason," Beal said. "If Coach [Scott Brooks] has you on the floor there's a reason you're out here."

“I remember the coaches were telling him [not to hesitate] and you have to shoot if you’re open," forward Rui Hachimura said. "We know he’s a good shooter. The last minutes, the last play, he didn’t hesitate, that’s why I think he made it.”

Robinson, 23, is still trying to build confidence, holding career averages of 36.6 percent shooting from the field and 30.7 percent from three. It is understandable why he would be a little unsure of himself when taking shots.

But after Wednesday, he has reason to believe. The Wizards gave them an opportunity and he seized it.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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Bradley Beal trusting Jerome Robinson to win game vs. Nets spoke volumes

Bradley Beal trusting Jerome Robinson to win game vs. Nets spoke volumes

WASHINGTON -- Bradley Beal had scored 50-plus points in his previous two games. He had 30 on Wednesday night against the Nets, including 17 in the fourth quarter alone. If he chose to dribble his way out of the double-team and launch a hero-ball shot in the closing seconds, no one would have blamed him.

He is a star player having the best stretch of his basketball life. Why wouldn't he take the shot?

Well, he didn't. Instead of trying to win the game himself, Beal saw his teammate, Jerome Robinson, wide open on the wing. Robinson, just 23 and in his second year, hasn't proven much at the NBA level yet despite being a 2018 first round pick.

But he was open and passing to him for the open look made basketball sense, even if it required fighting off the urge to be the alpha dog. Fortunately for Beal and the Wizards, Robinson came through as the unlikely hero, as the Wizards knocked off the Nets, 110-106, to snap a three-game losing streak.

Robinson not only made the three to put the Wizards up two points, he then grabbed a rebound on the next play and sank two free throws to seal the win.

"Big props to Brad, trusting his teammates. That tells you what kind of person he is," Robinson said.

Beal is a two-time All-Star currently second in the NBA in scoring, averaging 30.1 points per game. But he has long taken pride in being an unselfish player, the type who fits seamlessly into a team-oriented system.

Sometimes that means taking what the defense gives him and Beal felt the Nets' approach dictated his decision. He had Garrett Temple, a scrappy defender, facing him up with Caris LeVert sprinting his way. That left Robinson in space.

"I'm not going to chuck it up from 45 when I've got two, three people running at me," Beal said. "I've got wide open teammates. Win, lose or draw, I'm always going to trust guys who are wide open."

Head coach Scott Brooks pointed out afterward how Beal made a similar play in the game before, when the Wizards lost in overtime to the Milwaukee Bucks. At the end of regulation, he passed to rookie Rui Hachimura under the basket and Hachimura was blocked by Robin Lopez.

The results were different, but two games in a row Beal showed faith in a young and inexperienced teammate. Hachimura, though already a standout, is a rookie. Robinson, a second-year player, has yet to find a niche in the NBA and was cast off by the Clippers in a trade just weeks ago.

Also helping the cause on Wednesday was the fact Beal has become a much better playmaker in recent years. This season he is averaging a career-high six assists per game and has improved that number now in four straight years.

Brooks believes he has adapted with All-Star point guard John Wall out due to injuries.

"It was three years ago by an unfortunate injury. John was out [and] missed 41 games that year and last year he missed 50 games. Brad has had a lot of reps [because] eams are going to double team him," Brooks said.

In the middle of a career-best hot streak, a lot of NBA players would have taken the shot. But Beal made the right basketball play and it led to a Wizards win.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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