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What the Wizards team doctor can tell us about John Wall’s recovery timeline

What the Wizards team doctor can tell us about John Wall’s recovery timeline

Back in December, Wizards guard John Wall addressed the media following the news he was set to undergo season-ending surgery on his left heel. He explained the decision, which was made in consultation with Wizards doctors, Dr. Robert Anderson in Green Bay and his own inner circle, as intended to prevent a much more serious injury.

“It's to the point where I can't play through it anymore, unless I want to tear my Achilles,” Wall said.

Wall ended up tearing his Achilles anyways in a freak accident at his home just one month later. The first surgery gave him a timeline to return by the start of next season. This next surgery will add at least a few more months on top of that.

Wizards team medical director Dr. Wiemi Douoguih explained in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday the details of how Wall’s ruptured Achilles was discovered and how long it could take to get him back on the floor. There were some specifics, but also plenty of unknowns.

“You know, there’s no way to tell,” Douoguih said of whether Wall will for certain get back to the player he once was. 

“We don’t have a whole lot of data on elite NBA point guards with tendon ruptures. John is an unusual specimen because of his talent, his abilities and the demands placed on his body. So, we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Douoguih outlined a recovery of anywhere between 11 and 15 months. An 11-month recovery would be in line with Wall’s college teammate, DeMarcus Cousins, who returned in less than a year from the same injury. A 15-month rehab would keep him out for the entirety of next season.

Douoguih shared some details about how Wall’s latest injury was diagnosed. The All-Star point guard had surgery to remove bone spurs in his left heel on Jan. 8 and three weeks later, on Jan. 29, slipped and fell in his home.

Douoguih said Wall was not wearing the walking boot he had been prescribed when he fell, but was permitted to take it off for certain tasks like taking showers. Soon after falling, Wall told the Wizards medical staff about the incident. He told them he didn’t hear a pop, but had felt some additional discomfort.

Soon after, Douoguih examined Wall for an infection related to the initial surgery and realized his Achilles tendon had been damaged.

“We tried to put him on antibiotics, but the [infection] wasn’t getting better. So, we just went in to explore it and incidentally found that he had a rupture at the time of the surgery,” Douoguih said.

Douoguih explained that the tendon wasn’t fully torn, that several strands remained attached to the bone. That, he believes, threw off their initial examination. He also said that separates Wall’s injury from the average Achilles tear.

However, Douoguih believes Wall’s surgery, which is expected to take place next week in Green Bay, will still fall within the normal parameters of Achilles tendon surgery. Once it is done, the long road to recovery will begin.  


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Isaiah Thomas injury puts Wizards in tenuous spot at point guard position

Isaiah Thomas injury puts Wizards in tenuous spot at point guard position

The Wizards were already walking a tightrope with their point guard situation when news broke Wednesday that Isaiah Thomas will miss the next six-to-eight weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a ligament in his left thumb. Now with Thomas out, they are perilously thin at an important position.

Thomas will miss all of training camp, the preseason and possibly several weeks of the regular season. That leaves Ish Smith as the de facto starter with a host of non-ideal options behind him.

The No. 2 point guard for now will be left for undrafted rookie Justin Robinson, 19-year-old Isaac Bonga or someone like Troy Brown Jr. or Jordan McRae, both of whom the Wizards would prefer to see play other roles. Bradley Beal will also see time on the ball, according to someone familiar with their plans.

This is all in the context of John Wall's ruptured Achilles surgery that could keep him sidelined for all of the 2019-20 season. With Wall out for several months at a minimum, the Wizards have major questions at his position.

The positive news, if you're looking for some, is that Thomas didn't reinjure his hip. This is a new injury, albeit one to his shooting hand. It is also something that likely won't affect them far into the regular season. 

Thomas was also not going to play a ton in the preseason. The Wizards had plans to limit his minutes as a veteran with a detailed injury history.

But with their current point guard crop, they can ill-afford any injuries at all. They were already taking a risk on Thomas after he played only 12 games last season.

It's worth noting the Wizards opted to go with Smith and Thomas in the offseason instead of re-signing point guard Tomas Satoransky, who left in free agency for the Chicago Bulls. They instead spent that money on Smith and Thomas.

Despite their current issues at point guard, the Wizards do not have plans to bring in significant reinforcements, according to a source. They did, though, recently add Chris Chiozza as a camp invite, NBC Sports Washington was told. He spent time with the Wizards and Rockets last season.


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Isaiah Thomas undergoes thumb surgery, expected to miss 6-8 weeks

Isaiah Thomas undergoes thumb surgery, expected to miss 6-8 weeks

Isaiah Thomas underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a ruptured radial collateral ligament in his left thumb, the Wizards announced in a press release.

Thomas sustained the injury during workouts on Monday. He is expected to miss six to eight weeks before returning to action, per the release. 

“This was an unfortunate setback for Isaiah, but with his resolve and the top care he will receive from our medical team, we expect him to make a full recovery,”  Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard said in the release. “In the meantime, he will continue to mentor our young guards and have a positive impact on the team as we start training camp.”

The Wizards signed Thomas as a free agent on July 6 to help bolster their backcourt while John Wall continues to recover from a torn Achilles.

With Wall out and Thomas sidelined until at least the end of October, the Wizards will have to start the season with little experience at the point guard position, leaving ball-handling duties to Ish Smith and Justin Robinson.