All-Star guard John Wall will only participate in “bits and pieces” of Washington Wizards training camp as he rebounds from offseason knee surgery.
Coach Scott Brooks said there is no official timeline for the former University of Kentucky star to be ready for game action. Brooks doesn’t know if Wall will play in any of seven preseason games before the Wizards open the regular season Oct. 27 at Atlanta.
Wall said he’s feeling great but echoed Brooks’ mantra that he won’t hurry back too soon and risk re-injuring anything.
“I’m in no rush,” Wall said Monday at media day. “I’m just listening to what the doctors and our training staff say. I’m out here working out, going 1-on-1 and 3-on-3 and just taking my time. I’m feeling better. I’m losing weight and getting in better shape.”
Wall’s goal was to be in the best shape of his career going into his seventh NBA season. In May, the 26-year-old had a procedure on the patella tendon in his left knee and an arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, so that plan was altered so he can get healthy.
When training camp opens Tuesday in Richmond, Virginia, Wall will have his workload increased as long as he continues to show improvement.
“I think he’s progressing well,” Brooks said. “I don’t want to put any time on it. But I know that he’s making strides and we’re excited about it. Obviously he’s one of the best point guards in this league. You want all your players healthy, and when that time comes we'll put him on (the court) and have him do everything.”
Wall averaged a career high 19.9 points, 10.2 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals a game last season, making his third consecutive all-star game. Knee problems limited him near the end of the regular season, and Washington missed the playoffs after making it the two previous years.
The 2010 No. 1 pick out of Kentucky wants to sharpen his three-point shooting and shooting off the dribble this season. He said he’s now able to jump off both legs and finish at the rim, which should allow him to better mix his spot-up and driving threats to keep opposing defenses honest.
Wall said getting back to his old, elite self could take time, and the Wizards have an early season contingency plan in free agent addition Trey Burke. Brooks said he doesn’t know what will happen as far as Burke’s playing time and role if Wall isn’t ready to start the season, calling it “hypothetical.”
What’s real is that Wall wants himself and Bradley Beal to form one of the best backcourts in the league. Beal is ready to do his part after signing a $128 million, five-year contract over the summer, and he isn’t worried about Wall getting back to 100 percent.
“He’s dealt with injuries before, so he’s always a positive believer in coming back stronger,” Beal said. “He always has a chip on his shoulder no matter if he’s healthy or not. … He looks good from what I see. He’s just going to continue to get better, continue to stay healthy and we’re going to need him.”
Brooks wouldn’t say whether he’d put Wall on any kind of minutes restriction, adding that he'll never put a player on the court who is injured. The entire team is in wait-and-see mode on Wall, who wants to play the entire season but said he'll monitor his body and listen to medical personnel about how to manage his knees.
Wall wants his next step to be playing basketball — 5-on-5 — when it matters. But playing basketball for a long time is his top priority. “This is more important for my future, down the road for my career and not just rushing my way back and then probably don’t know how much time I would have left to play in my career,” Wall said. “Just taking my time and making sure everything’s feeling right. It’s a long season.”