Back in late September, the Washington Wizards got some bad news: John Wall, talented young point guard and a necessary part of the franchise's hopeful return to respectability, would miss the first month of the regular season with an injury to the patella in his left knee. It was a sizable setback for a player and team with substantial expectations for the season. All things considered, though, it was not thought to be a particularly serious injury.
Nearly two months into the season, Wall still hasn't played a minute. Worse yet, there haven't even been positive updates on his progress. On Monday, Wall spoke with reporters about his progress. It is not good. Amin Vafa transcribed it all for Bullets Forever:
Reporter: Is your injury -- I saw a report that said -- similar to Blake Griffin's?
Wall: He broke his kneecap. I think mine was just a stress fracture where I was in the beginning stages of breaking my kneecap. It was lucky I caught it before it broke, and I would already know what my timetable is: I would miss the whole season. And I had a little bit of cartilage problems. Underneath my kneecap it's kind of rough.
Reporter: How much worry do you have? Do you feel like once the swelling does come down, you will make progress and can get out there and start playing again?
Wall: So, that's the 50-50 chance you got. I mean, you never know how it's going to go. You just hope it heals the right way, and I think I've been doing the right things I'm supposed to do: just rest, do my exercises, try to stay in shape as best as possible without going out there and injuring myself and hurting myself for the rest of my career. I want to be out there playing basketball with my teammates, but I just want to make sure I'm fully healthy. [...]
Reporter: How has your knee responded to the shot [you received on Friday]?
Wall: The last few times, it felt pretty good. I still didn't do nothing on the court, but it was getting better, and the swelling was starting to go down. I just got one Friday, and it needs a couple of days for the swelling to go down, so I'm still waiting to see how it's going to feel by like Wednesday or Thursday this week.
Reporter: Have you been given a timetable?
Wall: No, no timetable. Basically, I just got to see how this shot goes, and see if I can get back to ramping it up without having any problems or pain or soreness.
UPDATE: Wizards beat writer Michael Lee of The Washington Post got informed BDL that Wall misspoke and does not actually have a stress fracture in his knee.
So, in short: Wall is dealing with cartilage problems, and still has no estimate of when he can return. What seemed relatively minor back in September has turned into something far more serious.
It's also rough news for pretty much everyone involved. While the NBA-worst 3-18 Wizards' hopes of making the playoffs this season likely wouldn't have been realized even with Wall, he's the player most important to their long-term development, a former No. 1-overall pick with considerable natural ability. He hasn't progressed as many had hoped, but he's still a player who many, including me, thought would be an All-NBA selection several times in his career. That talent hasn't just disappeared because of two disappointing seasons.
More specifically, this particular season continues to be a key moment for the course of Wall's career. This season was supposed to be the time when he either proved he could be an All-Star or when his status as a disappointment became much clearer. Instead, that verdict has been put off. Wall obviously still has plenty of time to prove himself. But, the longer he stays on the sidelines, the less likely it is that everyone will wait around for him to show what he can be.