J. Michael discusses what Nene's injury means for the Wiz
Admit it. Considering the Wizards' brutal record with Nene out of the lineup, thoughts of another playoff-less season danced through your head upon seeing the Brazilian big man limp off the court in Cleveland on Sunday. When the team announced the power forward would miss around six weeks - which equates to nearly the entire remaining regular season schedule, those fears intensified, right?
Well, the team's owner wants you to know that despite the injury, the plan, one openly discussed before the season tipped, remains the same. There will be no tanking talk. The focus is on the Wizards' first playoff appearance since 2008.
"Our goals have not changed in any way at the Washington Wizards," stated Ted Leonsis Tuesday morning on his "Ted's Take" blog. "We must remain focused as a group and over come injuries, and whatever else comes our way this season. We can only focus on the game at hand - tonight - at home - against Orlando."
The Wizards (28-28) host the Orlando Magic (17-41) at 7 p.m. with coverage on Comcast SportsNet. Washington is fifth place in the Eastern Conference, 1 1/2 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot.
Since acquiring Nene before the 2012 trading deadline, Washington sports a 7-34 record without the big man and top interior defender.
Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin, Al Harrington and Chris Singleton are expected collectively to pick up those now available minutes. The Wizards are also expected to use their open roster spot on another big man. Washington gained roster flexibility following last week's trade for guard Andre Miller, which sent 6-foot-11 Jan Vesely to Denver.
"It is time for other players in our rotation to fill a big void in our line up; and we will use our roster spot created at the trade deadline to bring in an additional player to hopefully contribute to the playoff qualification race, "Leonsis said.
"Injuries are a part of the NBA; and professional sports in general, we started the season by learning that our starting center [Emeka Okafor] wouldn't be able to play this season, we were able to make a trade to bring in Marcin Gortat. And now Nene is injured and will miss about 6 weeks; we have players that we have drafted to step in to his spot...It is their time now to step up their games, and contribute as productive team mates."