After several weeks of doubt regarding John Wall’s playing status, Washington Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard has effectively ruled out the former Kentucky star for the NBA’s restart in Orlando, FL next month.
In a video conference with the media on Monday, Sheppard said Wall was simply not ready to return to action following surgery for bone spurs in 2018 and a torn left Achilles tendon in 2019.
The NBA has allowed teams to bring 35 people each, including players, coaches, and personnel. With Wall pushing for a complete recovery in 2020-21, the team feels the former Wildcat will be better off continuing his rehab efforts under team supervision in Washington and Miami rather than taking up a valuable spot in the bubble.
“He definitely lost all the basketball gains that he had made [due to the coronavirus],” Sheppard said in the conference call. “He’s got to focus on what he’s got to do, but having somebody go into that bubble that’s not going to play, that’s just more people going into the bubble.”
Wall originally said he was “110%” and could return to the floor if need be, but felt that it would be best for his long-term health to sit out the rest of the season, no matter how long the coronavirus hiatus was.
“I’m 110%,” Wall said in May. “I’m healthy. I’m itching to get back out there. I understand how quickly this game can be taken away from you. I try to play through all injuries, because I feel like, ‘If it ain’t broke, go play.’ For me, if you take all the money away, I’m still going to play the game the same way I do, because that’s how much I love it.”
Though Wall will not return to the floor this season, the Wizards GM says he’s confident his star guard will return to form next year.
“The last thing I ever have to worry about is John Wall’s work ethic,” Sheppard said. “He’s going to get after this. This is a very critical offseason to him, and I think he’s got a very, very big chip on his shoulder. I think he just really wants to get back to playing basketball.”
The Wizards currently sit at 24-40 on the season, good for ninth in the Eastern Conference. When the team heads to Orlando in July, Washington will have to claw back down 5 1/2 games from the eighth-place Orlando Magic.