The Washington Wizards are very “grateful” to be included in the NBA’s return, as GM Tommy Sheppard told the local media, including Heavy.com, during a zoom conference call. Sheppard said that the team has “nothing to lose” with regard to the remaining games left in the season and their pursuit of making the playoffs.
“We’re trying to manage expectations…but what are we there to do? We’re there to win games…with the opportunity to (win games) and make the playoffs, that’s all we can ask for,” Sheppard said.
The GM said that he considers this a “pressure situation,” which is something he likes to see players in to evaluate them. With only eight games in the regular season (and with the Wizards needing to make up 1.5 games in the win column to force a play-in game), the franchise should get to see its players in those types of situations.
Who Will Travel With the Wizards to Orlando?
All teams are limited to bringing 35 people to Orlando and Sheppard touched on who will travel to Florida.
“We haven’t zeroed in on the final list,” Sheppard said while adding that he’ll go to Orlando and he expects about 15 people split between the medical staff and coaching staff.
Sheppard added that outside of Davis Bertans, he hasn’t received any indication that other players will bow out. NBA players are not required to attend and Sheppard cautioned that he didn’t “want to look too far ahead” in regard to any player not attending.
Teams are allowed to add replacement players, though it’s unlikely that the Wizards sign someone to replace Bertans. Admiral Schofield, who was the team’s 2019 second-round pick, is a candidate to see more playing time at the four as a result of Bertans missing the resumed season.
John Wall Won’t Join Wizards in NBA’s Return
It was previously reported that John Wall won’t travel with the team to Orlando. The Wizards confirmed as much during the conference call on Monday. The team also gave an update on how the rest of the team is doing.
“This is kind of unprecedented situation…Normally we don’t have this kind of time off in between (playing basketball),” Wizards Chief of Athletic Care & Performance Daniel Medina said. “Most of our guys were in pretty good shape (when they returned to the practice facility recently).”
Medina also added that John Wall is in good shape and at a healthy weight.
Medina is helping the Wizards ramp back up after the NBA suspension by implementing training schedules and he believes the challenges are unique from both the standpoint of having this much time off but also from COVID-19 related precautions. Players haven’t been able to work out in group play. Players aren’t even sharing basketballs at this point
Sheppard said that the franchise still believes that it is safe to go to the NBA’s campus despite a reported spike in COVID-19 cases in Florida.
“We take our lead from everything the NBA has given to us and we’re still proceeding as normal,” Sheppard said.