Randy Wittman denies John Wall clashed with Wizards team doctors

ByOhm Youngmisuk ESPN logo
Friday, May 8, 2015

WASHINGTON -- As the Washington Wizards wait for the swelling in John Wall's fractured left hand and wrist to go down, coach Randy Wittman angrily defended the team's medical staff, disputing a report that Wall clashed with team physicians before sitting out the Wizards' Game 2 loss in the Eastern Conference semifinals Tuesday.

Wall was diagnosed with five non-displaced fractures in his left wrist and hand Thursday. He hasn't been ruled out of Game 3 Saturday in the series against the Atlanta Hawks, but the point guard is unsure when (or if) he will be able to play again this postseason.

The Washington Post, citing a source with knowledge of the situation, reported that "Wall clashed with team medical staffers before sitting out Tuesday" after he came crashing down on his wrist in the second quarter of Game 1 Sunday.

Wall initially feared he had fractured his wrist, which he had broken in high school. X-rays taken in Atlanta after the game revealed no breaks. Wall said he received two opinions on his injury and was told it was just a bad sprain despite the increased swelling. He stayed in the Wizards' Game 1 win, playing 39 minutes and posting a double-double (18 points, 13 assists).

Upon returning to Washington, Wall underwent further tests, when the non-displaced fractures were discovered.

"What was reported today is a flat-out lie about John clashing with doctors and the training staff," Wittman said after the Wizards practiced Friday. "That is so far from the truth, I've got to say something.

"That's not fair to this kid or our doctors, they're busting their ass, to have something like that said. That's not right. I have to stand up for those people in there."

The Wizards have much bigger problems than worrying about a report. Wall is still feeling pain in his left hand and wrist. He said it was "devastating" when he was told that his initial fears were true and that he did suffer the fractures.

The swelling in Wall's hand went down a bit Friday, but the point guard has yet to attempt to dribble, something he may try to do Saturday.

"It's up in the air," Wall said of a possible return. "Taking it day-by-day. If the pain goes away and I can dribble and do those things again, then it is all up to me. Do I feel like it's a risk to hurt my hand?

"If I am able to do those things, dribble and do the things that I want to do and be myself, then there is a great percentage I will play. But if I can't be myself, there is no point in going out there."

If Wall doesn't play in Game 3, he would have two more days of rest before Game 4 Monday. The best-of-seven series is tied 1-1.

Wittman would not rule Wall out for Game 3. ESPN's Britt McHenry reported Thursday that Wall's wrist is too swollen to evaluate and that the swelling needs to subside before the team can determine his status.

"He's got to get it all out, and it's not there yet," Wittman said. "... You have to again look at, once the swelling gets out of there, what the breaks look like. It's going to change is kind of what my understanding is. You got all that swelling and pressure in there.

"If there is a risk, we are not going to put the kid at risk. That won't happen, I guarantee you that. If doctors say there is a risk of hurting it worse, then he is not playing."

Wizards forward Paul Pierce suffered a non-displaced fracture of the third metacarpal in his right shooting hand in 2013 as a member of the Brooklyn Nets. Initially diagnosed with a recovery timetable of two to four weeks, Pierce missed just four games and returned 11 days later, playing with a glove on his hand.

But that was a single non-displaced fracture, not five fractures, which is what Wall has in his non-shooting hand and wrist.

Wall said he didn't want to hear a timetable from doctors.

"When the doctors started talking about fracture, I just put my head down," he said. "The things we [the Wizards] were doing, how this team came up this season, and we were feeling more comfortable and playing well into the playoffs, it is tough. It is devastating.

"We are still talking," Wall added of consulting with doctors. "It just happened. We just figured this out. It's something I just found out, just like y'all did. It ain't like I can just jump the gun. I got to be patient with it. If the pain goes away, then I can try."

Wall pointed out that he did play with the injury after suffering it late in the second quarter of Game 1.

And he said this isn't like when he broke his wrist in high school.

"I snapped the whole thing, so it was just hanging," Wall said of his high school injury. "It was totally different. My hand, I can still move it a little bit, but it's just pain. I can't do anything if I can't dribble. You got to be able to dribble.

"It's basically just [like] taping my hand behind my back and saying play with one hand. It's not happening in this league."

In the playoffs, Wall is averaging 17.4 points, 12.6 assists and 1.4 blocks per game, and he had four consecutive double-doubles before missing Game 2.

Ramon Sessions, who scored 21 points starting in place of Wall in Game 2, will start again if Wall is ruled out for Game 3.

"I can't put it all on me," Wall said. "I am one guy, a key to the team and a leader. I am bigger than just being injured. I have to be the point guard on the bench and cheering these guys on. I believe these 14 guys have a great opportunity. I believe in these guys."

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