With John Wall already sidelined for the first month of the regular season, the Wizards were hoping Brazilian big man Nene would carry at least some of the scoring load when the 2012-13 season opens on Oct. 30.
With training camp set to open today at George Mason University in Fairfax, Nene is giving no guarantees hell be ready by then.
Nene, who turned 30 last month, is still bothered by the left foot injury plantar fasciitis that sidelined him after arriving in Washington March 15 in a trade from Denver. He aggravated the injury while playing for Brazil in the Summer Olympics and is not expected to participate in the Wizards eight-game preseason, which begins Monday night in Charlotte.
It's hard to say about a timetable, Nene said. I come here every day, take care of myself, see when I feel really good. When I feel strong to do all the things I need to do on the court, that's the time.
Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said last week that he hoped Nene would be ready for the season opener in Cleveland on Oct. 30.
I hope, too, Nene said. We'll be positive. Well work to be on that time.
The Wizards leaned heavily on Nene after his arrival last season. In 11 games the 6-foot-11, 250-pound centerforward averaged 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds.
If Nene is unavailable for the opener, much of that responsibility will fall on 6-foot-10, 255-pound center Emeka Okafor, who was acquired from New Orleans along with Trevor Ariza on June 20 for Rashard Lewis and a second-round draft pick.
Okafor, who turned 30 last week, missed the final 39 games of last season with a knee injury. He averaged a career-low 9.9 points and 7.9 rebounds a game but says hes completely healed and is ready to help the Wizards in both departments.
Durability was the main focus of the offseason, Okafor said. Ive been durable for the most part in my career. Last year, with the lockout, things happened. But most of my offseason was spent just getting right. Its my ninth year. I do what I do. I can rebound, defend, finish. Hopefully, I can show you that I can shoot.
In the meantime, Nene says hell continue a slow and steady rehab that assures his left foot will be able to withstand a full NBA season.
Right now, because I'm not jumping or doing nothing, it feels pretty good, he said. Ive been working hard, doing physical therapy, taking care of myself. I understand because as a veteran, when you feel good, that's one of the goals. You need to feel good, you need to be good and you need to be smart.
The bad part I passed. Now is the good part. I'm going to do what I can control. Time is going to be my friend, I hope.