Nene's foot injury puts early games in doubt

Nene's foot injury puts early games in doubt
October 19, 2012, 4:30 pm
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The 2012-13 Washington Wizards have two prominent players in John Wall and Nene. They are the kind of talents worthy of receiving odds, long as they may be, for the NBA's Most Valuable Player award as they were this week.

Neither has been healthy enough for a training camp practice nor seen a second of preseason action. Wall, the speed of sound running point guard figures to miss at least the first month of the season with a right knee stress injury, the kind of ailment that includes a bit of wait and see approach.

Yet at least there is some definition to his timetable. As for Nene, he of the plantar fasciitis issue with his left foot, not so much, no matter whom you ask.

First up following the Wizards' Friday practice, Wizards coach Randy Wittman. Any update on your high-priced starting center?

"I don’t," Wittman said before the team set off for Saturday's game at Milwaukee. Nene, Wall and Kevin Seraphin (calf) will all remain behind.

"[The trainers] are going to tell me when it’s time to get [Nene] on the floor. That’s when I see him down on the floor, to be honest with you. He’s amping up, doing more and more what he can do in terms of with the training staff."

This week Nene visited a foot specialist in Baltimore, receiving electric stimulation therapy.

"He went to Baltimore and they liked what they saw and the progress he’s been making. And that’s all I can really go on in terms of that," Wittman said, providing no authoritative answer on this particular topic less than two weeks before the regular season tips off.

Next, we, as in the media, turned to the 30-year Brazilian big man himself, looking for anything in the ballpark of a definitive response about his return. Forget playing in any of the three remaining preseason games; how about the Oct. 30 regular season opener in Cleveland?

"I’m not going to say," Nene said. "That’s the reason I don’t say. I don’t know. I want to, but sometimes it does not go the way you want. I just want to make sure I’m healthy to help my team because if I sit down again, that’s not good."

No, that would not be good.

"I’m getting there, man. I believe I’m making progress," Nene said. "I was a little behind than I thought. It’s still enflamed. I just want to take care of it the right way. But all the exercises, I’ve been doing fine. I’ve been listening. I’ve been obedient. That’s what I can say to you.

"Now, time, I just want to make sure I’m 100 percent because I don’t want this kind of injury again on a season."

Acquired last season from Denver, Nene missed 14 of 25 games including a stretch of 10 straight with foot issues. The gregarious center with the high quality low post game also helped change the team's vibe, approach on and off court. Washington won eight of its final 10 games last season. Even while sidelined during the preseason, Nene has been a vocal presence during practices and sitting on the bench.

Considering being in game shape is another matter altogether, could we see Nene against the Cavaliers if he were to miss the entire preseason?

"That’s up to him," Wittman said. "I can’t tell a player when to play and when not to. It depends on which practice situation obviously. He’s got to get on the floor and do things at full speed before I would put him out there. I can’t tell a player when he’s ready. That’s up to the player."

For now, we're left to wonder how long until Nene can help this year's squad win games while actually being on the court. All guesses welcomed.