Nene wants to play fewer minutes

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

So, this is starting again.

It was very strange to me that Randy Wittman brought Nene back into the game in the fourth quarter of yesterday's preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets. I know Wittman said there would be no minutes restrictions for him,  but what was the point of stretching him in a meaningless situation?

Now, I'm even more puzzled. In an interview with CSN Washington, Nene said he still feels sore and would like to play fewer minutes in Brazil and going forward. (Emphasis mine)

"No, no no no," Nene said quickly to CSN Washington, though with a smile, about playing more Saturday when the Wizards face the Chicago Bulls in Rio de Janeiro. "I don't worry about minutes even in Brazil because I'm a pro. I don't want to get sore, get hurt. I still have a couple of issues. Just because I feel better, they think I feel great but they're wrong. We need to reduce (it) a couple minutes.

"My knee is still sore. My foot still hurts a little bit. Just trying to push (through)," said Nene, who didn't play basketball during the off-season and opted for rehabilitation. "The therapy is making me feel better."

This is a problem. There's clearly some sort of communication breakdown here if Wittman is saying Nene is ready for no minutes restrictions and Nene himself is saying that he still doesn't feel great. First and foremost, Wittman and Nene need to get on the same page and craft a plan that makes sense for both parties.

After that ... well, it's clear Nene's injury issues aren't going away yet. Honestly, it's naive for anyone to suggest that a player's pain would magically be solved with no hitches just with offseason rest. There always needs to be a gradual build-up. I know the Wizards are shorthanded with other injuries, but Nene still needs to be brought on slowly so problems like these don't result. If I had to choose sides between player and coach, I side with Nene.

Now is not the time for Nene to push through too much pain. It's the preseason. The games don't count. We're just getting started. Those minutes need to be carefully managed now so they don't need to be carefully managed later.

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