Morning tip: Vesely says no more mental hurdles

Morning tip: Vesely says no more mental hurdles
October 3, 2013, 8:00 am
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Al Harrington excited for opportunity with Wizards

FAIRFAX, Va. -- The $64,000 question persists -- or is it really the $4.2 million question? -- is whether or not Jan Vesely deserves to have the third-year option of his rookie contract picked up by Oct. 31.

Much had been made of the possibilities for the 6-11 Czech player, but in two seasons with the Wizards he has fallen woefully short and out of coach Randy Wittman's rotation.

The Wizards are optimistic that he's on the uptick, or is it wishful thinking given their need for post players and the tenuous health of Nene?  

While it appears the Wizards will wait until the 11th hour to make the decision, they might not have much choice other than to pick up the option. Not doing so would be an admission that the No. 6 overall pick in 2011 was a mistake. And besides, NBA teams don't give up on high draft picks easily. 

It took the Minnesota Timberwolves two seasons to move on from Jonny Flynn and Wesley Johnson, and the almost same amount of time for the Memphis Grizzlies to get rid of Hasheem Thabeet. 

Vesely, who has far more athletic promise than Thabeet, a 7-2 center chosen second overall, has performed well at Las Vegas summer league and in EuroBasket. The Wizards' season-opener is Oct. 30 at the Detroit Pistons, just before his contract deadline. 

"I just forgot about last season and tried to focus on my work and enjoy basketball," said Vesely, who averaged just 2.5 points and 2.4 rebounds in 2012-13. "I had a long summer before the EuroBasket. I enjoyed playing there. Finally, I just enjoyed basketball again."

Wittman insisted after a 29-win season last year that Vesely had to "work on his head." He's confident that Vesely's focus has translated into training camp that began Saturday. 

The Wizards experimented with Vesely as a center in summer league, where he started. But those players weren't as big and physical as the ones he'd face during the regular season. With Emeka Okafor (herniated disk) out indefinitely, however, the Wizards potentially could play him there using a small lineup.

Now that expectations of him playing well are heightened again, will that added pressure cause Vesely to crack at the first sign of adversity?

"I don't think so. I tried to work hard this summer," he said. "I just used the summer league and EuroBasket to get my confidence down and just come back here and just play. 

"I didn't have much chance to play (last season). This EuroBasket could help me …to get the chance."