For the past three months, Wizards coach Randy Wittman has walked around like an expectant father waiting for medical updates on John Wall.
On Thursday he finally got a chance to see his prodigal point guard run the floor with his own eyes and said his progress is “maybe even faster than I thought.”
Wall has missed all 26 games of the Wizards season with a stress injury to his left knee and the results have been catastrophic. Heading into Friday night’s home game against the Orlando Magic, the Wizards are dead last in the NBA with a 3-23 record and have lost eight straight games.
During halftime of the Wizards’ 87-84 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday Wall told Yahoo! Sports that he expects to return to the lineup sometime in January.
“God, I hope so,” Wittman said Thursday after watching Wall participate in his first “dummy” practice with the Wizards, in which defenders are not used on the court.
“I’m glad he’s thinking that. He did dummy with us today with the group for the first time. That’s a step forward. Obviously, no contact yet, but he did full speed up and down with the dummy stuff we ran and that’s the first time he’s done that with the team.
“That’s a step in that direction. Obviously, we’re moving, to be quite honest with you, maybe even faster than I thought it would be after he went to [David] Altchek [13 days ago] to be where he is right now.
“Knock on wood, you always kind of worry. Sept 27 was the last time he physically really did anything. You worry a little bit about that and if [swelling] happens we’ll slow down a little bit. Don’t put the cart in front of the horse, but we haven’t had any of that so far, so we’re moving in the right direction.”
Wall told Yahoo! Sports he’s gone three straight days without pain following workouts but is being caeful not to rush himself back and risk re-injury.
“There is no reason to force myself back and re-injure myself and have another setback where I don't start next season or I got to miss next season," Wall said. "I'm just taking my time.
"If I play 20 games, I just go out there and play them. I'm not giving up on my team and they're not giving up on me. They know I'm working hard to try to get back."
The absence of Wall has been compounded by the loss of point guard A.J. Price [fractured right hand] and a revolving door of replacements that has included Jannero Pargo, Shaun Livingston and, now, Shelvin Mack and Garrett Temple.