Kurt Helin

Miami Heat v Washington Wizards

Will John Wall play for Wizards Saturday? He says he has “no idea”

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If this weren’t the playoffs, if John Wall wasn’t absolutely central to everything the Wizards do on both ends of the floor, this wouldn’t even be a discussion.

But it is, and he is, so the question is out there: Might Wall try to play through the five non-displaced fractures in his left hand and wrist? The Wizards have made no official announcement of the plans for Wall, he and they are searching for a way he can play. They are weighing the risks and rewards, but remember a non-displaced fracture (to his shooting hand) kept Kawhi Leonard out more than three weeks this season.

The reality is, nobody knows if Wall will suit up and play on Saturday, including Wall himself, who spoke to J. Michael of CSNWashington.com.

“It’s moving better but there’s still pain there,” said Wall, who led the Wizards to a 104-98 win in Game 1 with 18 points and 13 assists. “I haven’t tried dribbling again so I’ll probably try it tomorrow. Just the same pain has been there even if the swelling goes down a little bit.

“I have no idea (if I can play again). Depends on my swelling and how all the pain goes away. I finished Game 1 with it not knowing I had anything wrong and then I came back and got evaluations so I have no idea.”

I wouldn’t be optimistic if I were a Wizards fan. There are a lot of risk/reward issues to think through.

How much could he really do with his left hand even in a splint or support? Does he become essentially a one-handed player (he still hasn’t even dribbled with the injured hand)? If so, he’s much easier to defend.

What can happen when an opposing player rakes him across his left hand and wrist? How much worse can the injury get? If you don’t think opponents target weaknesses, you have never watched pro sports.

Is that risk really worth the reward of making it one more round in the playoffs at best? Wall is the center of the franchise, would Wall be risking an injury that could impact next season or even beyond?

Wall is tough. He’s a competitor. He’s been the second-best player in the Eastern Conference these playoffs. But it seems a lot of risk to take on just to keep this playoff run going a little longer.

Report: John Wall clashed with Wizards medical staff over initial wrist diagnosis

Washington Wizards v Atlanta Hawks - Game One
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John Wall knew it was bad — he had broken his wrist on his left hand back in high school, so when he fell on it during Game 1 against the Hawks, he knew it was serious. From the Washington Post.

“I knew when I fell on it,” Wall said earlier this week. “You never know when you’ve got a lot of energy and power going down on the ground, so I thought I broke it. Kind of the same type of injury.”

Wall gutted out the rest of Game 1 and helped the Wizards earn an upset victory on the road. After that game X-rays came back negative and it was announced he had a sprain — but Wall wasn’t buying it. He knew it was something worse. That led to clashes with the Wizards medical staff, reports Michael Lee at the Post.

Wall refused to accept the initial diagnosis of a “real, real bad sprain” after X-rays immediately following the game were negative. According to a person with knowledge of the situation, Wall clashed with team medical staffers before sitting out Tuesday because he felt something more serious had caused his hand to explode. After a few days of confusion and concern, Wall got the confirmation of bone fractures that he never really wanted, leaving fans of the team with broken hearts.

Wizards coach Randy Whittman has since called this report a “flat out lie.”

Wall has been the second best player in the Eastern Conference playoffs this season. He’s also the focal point of the Wizards’ offense, and their best perimeter defender — this team is not close to the same without him. This is not the Clippers, who had another Top 10 NBA player to turn their offense over to; the Wizards are a much lesser team when Wall cannot play. And it’s hard to imagine him playing — a non-displaced fracture in his shooting hand kept Kawhi Leonard out more than three weeks this season.

And it’s hard to imagine him playing — a non-displaced fracture in his shooting hand kept Kawhi Leonard out more than three weeks this season. While this situation is different — this is Wall’s non-shooting hand — to play (even in a splint or support of some kind) is to risk a worsened injury that could be an issue for a year or more. It’s a risk-vs.-reward discussion, but with the guy you’re team is built around for the next several years you can only take on so much risk.

Thunder GM Presti reiterates he plans to re-sign Enes Kanter

Oklahoma City Thunder v Utah Jazz
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Oklahoma City liked what they saw from Enes Kanter this season.

Well, at least on the offensive end. The Thunder have wanted more scoring out of the center spot for a while (Kendrick Perkins was not that guy) and Kanter averaged 18.7 points and 11 rebounds a game after he was traded to OKC. He had an All-Star level PER of 24.9 after the trade. He was also his usual revolving door self on defense, something that Serge Ibaka helped mask, at least until Ibaka went down injured.

Speaking with Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman about the future, Thunder GM Sam Presti left no doubt that the team planned to re-sign the restricted free agent Kanter this summer and keep him in blue and white.

Enes is someone we are committed to seeing in a Thunder uniform moving forward.

Other teams can make offers to Kanter, he can sign them, but it sounds as if the Thunder would just match.

The Thunder paid the tax for the first time this season and keeping Kanter (along with potentially re-signing Kyle Singler) would ensure paying it again next season.

However, with the salary cap about to spike thanks to the influx of television money, the Thunder can pay Kanter and others, re-sign Durant next summer (if they can) and still not be taxpayers. They have a lot of flexibility that way.

Paul Pierce sounds like a guy who plans to stay a Wizard this summmer

Washington Wizards v Atlanta Hawks - Game Two
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If he wants to, Paul Pierce can become a free agent this summer.

He has a player option on his contract. Opt in and he makes $5.5 million to stay in Washington, opt out and he can test the market for a forward who turns 38 next season but is still productive (11.9 points per game this season) and provides a level of leadership many contending teams covet.

He will not say what he plans to do this summer while the Wizards are still alive in the playoffs (something that could end sooner rather than later after the news about John Wall’s hand). But speaking to CSNWashington.com, he sounds like a guy who wants to stay in the nation’s capital one way or another.

“It’s been nothing but love from the time I got off the airplane in the summer,” Pierce told Comcast SportsNet’s Chris Miller about his time with the Wizards….

“I feel like even if it’s one year, two years, or three years I’m here, I feel like I’m going to have a relationship with these guys for a long, long time even after basketball,” Pierce said. “It seems like we connect, and I connected with the city.”

Nothing is ever for sure. With his age and accomplishments, what Pierce is playing for now is rings and he may survey the land and decide he is closer to that goal somewhere else right now. There isn’t a contender that wouldn’t welcome him in some role.

But he sure sounds like a guy who plans to stay put.

PBT Extra: Expect more free throws for Rockets, Clippers

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ProBasketballTalk’s Kurt Helin joins Jenna Corrado to disscus the playoff series between the Rockets and Clippers. Helin expects the parade to the free-throw line to continue as both teams thrive on drawing fouls.