John Wall became a de facto assistant coach for the Washington Wizards as he continued to recover from an achilles injury that sidelined him for the entire 2019-20 season.
But then the coronavirus shutdown happened, effectively ending Wall’s time on the bench with the Wizards until at least next season.
On Monday, Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard confirmed that Wall will not be joining the Wizards in Orlando. Wall and Davis Bertans are the only players not expected to travel to Disney on July 7.
Instead, Sheppard said Wall will continue to work out in Miami and Washington, D.C. with hopes of getting back to where he was before the coronavirus shutdown.
Sheppard mentioned that Wall had lost the “basketball gains” he made, referencing the activities Wall was able to take part in months ago, including scrimmaging with the Capital City Go-Go.
Dr. Daniel Medina, Monumental Basketball’s Chief of Athlete Care and Performance, and Sheppard noted that Wall stayed in shape during this downtime, but bringing inactive players to Orlando is not a part of the team’s protocol.
Washington is technically the worst team invited to the Orlando bubble — but, by virtue of being a team inside the bubble, they have a chance to catch up to the Orlando Magic and find themselves in a play-in situation.
“I don’t want to look too far ahead, and we’re trying to manage expectations — but we’re there to win games,” Sheppard said during Monday’s video call. “That’s our job. With that opportunity to get to the playoffs, that’s all our players ask for.”
Sheppard acknowledged that the team has managed its expectations all season long, but that the Wizards will go into Orlando and “swing hard.” As of now, the team does not expect to shut down certain players, but will monitor everyone’s minutes and progress during this unconventional situation.
More than anything, Sheppard spoke about using this time to monitor the development of certain players, including Thomas Bryant, who dealt with nagging injuries during the season and would give himself an “incomplete” grade, Sheppard said.
Others, such as Admiral Schofield, will have more of an opportunity to play now that Bertans has decided to stay home, which offers the coaches a chance to gauge how the roster stacks up against itself. Players like Troy Brown Jr., Isaac Bonga and Jerome Robinson have done little to separate themselves from the pack, and this eight game stretch might do exactly that.