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With little left to play for, the Wizards should go ahead and shut down John Wall for the season

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Washington Wizards v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

There are a couple of different ways to look at John Wall missing Wednesday's game against the Nets on Wednesday.

Obviously, if Wall is going to miss a game, it was nice that it came against the Nets, who even in a spirited effort could only keep up with the Wall-less Wizards for 24 minutes. If this was just a case of the Wizards resting Wall in a game they had a good chance of winning even without his services, that would be completely understandable. However, it seems like it would go against Wall's nature to sit out a game for rest if the Wizards still have a chance at making the playoffs.

So if that's the case, then we have to assume Wall was genuinely hurt and Randy Wittman wasn't playing around with what he said about Wall's status, according to J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic:

"His knee was sore and had some swelling in it unlike that it had this year," coach Randy Wittman said. "It was smart to sit him out and I'm glad we did.

"I didn't think he wasn't going to play because he's played 77 games. I had an idea (he wouldn't play). When he came in there (before tipoff) and it wasn't much better than it was this morning I told him to shut it down."

We also have to assume John Wall wasn't saying stuff like this on Wednesday to keep up a farce of resting against a bad team without actually saying he's resting, when he said this to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post:

Wall said he woke up Wednesday morning with his right knee swollen and sore and he didn’t know why.

"It just swelled up on me out of nowhere," he said.

Nothing about this sounds good. Any way you slice it up, there's very little incentive for the Wizards to get John Wall back on the floor this season.

If he's seriously hurt, the Wizards need to focus more on protecting their best player rather than making him miserable trying to scrape into a matchup against Cleveland. I think I can speak for all Wizards fans in saying we'd prefer not to see a reboot of LeBron James traveling through Washington en route to the second round again.

If he just needed a little rest, it still doesn't change that the Wizards need to win out, have the Pistons lose out, and hope the Bulls lose at least one more game to make it in. It wouldn't change the fact that he'd still be putting more miles on his body in a fruitless endeavor. No one needs Wall driving himself into the ground to save a season that's already lost.

And let's not forget if the Wizards shut down Wall, it provides some ancillary benefits for the rest of the team. Bradley Beal would get one last chance to show what he can do as the team's primary option. Players on expiring deals would get more playing time to audition for jobs next season and the team's rookies would stand to get some more playing time as well.

It's never fun to say a team should give up on their hopes, especially when there's still a mathematical chance they could make the playoffs. But at this point preservation should matter more than pride. Washington's chance at making a meaningful playoff run has come and gone. The Wizards would be wise to make sure they don't waste future chances by risking their star's health in a meaningless pursuit of fleeting glory.