Top-pick Wall hurt in first practice
WASHINGTON -- One practice, one injury for No. 1 draft choice John Wall.
The Washington Wizards rookie point guard was held out of practice Friday morning with a groin injury from Thursday night's session, but returned for Friday's night session.
"He's got a little bit of tightness in his groin," coach Flip Saunders said. "He kind of slipped on the court and kind of stretched out a little bit in the scrimmage last night so ... we didn't want to take any chances. We'll see if he loosens up."
The Wizards also practice Saturday morning before leaving for the Las Vegas Summer League.
Wall says there's a little stress and pain but he's not overly concerned.
"This is my first time sitting out like this," he said. "I'm type of person who doesn't want to sit out too long, but also in this type of situation, practice is important, Summer League is important. But it's an injury that can be hurting you throughout the whole season so my coaches and training staff are doing a great job."
Saunders raved about the 19-year-old player's "court intelligence, vision, competitiveness. He's a guy when you start playing full court, his game steps up even more."
The rebuilding Wizards are eager to have Wall working with veterans such as Yi Jianlian, whom they introduced on Friday, 10 days after acquiring the 22-year-old Chinese forward from the New Jersey Nets for swingman Quinton Ross.
"John's going to make the game a lot easier for Yi," Saunders said. "He's going to have a lot of opportunities to ... shoot the basketball. We're fortunate to get a quality player, almost for us like signing a free agent. He's a player with a great deal of potential and [general manager Ernie Grunfeld] and I both felt that our system was conducive for him to be able to reach that potential."
Saunders said the Wizards remain in the market for a veteran small forward or big man with their remaining $7 million or so in salary cap room.
Although he's 7-foot, Yi, drafted sixth overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2007, is a sharp enough shooter to have converted 34 percent of his 3-point attempts during his three seasons while averaging 9.6 points and 5.8 rebounds.
"We're trying to build with youth and we're fortunate to get a player of his caliber," Grunfeld said. "He gives us another very versatile player in the frontcourt. He runs the floor very well, an outstanding outside shooter who can stretch the defense. We think he has a real bright future."
Yi, who pulled down a career-high 19 rebounds against Washington on Feb. 28, thinks playing with Wall will help him improve his game.
"I'm very excited to be here," Yi said. "I'm very excited to play with John Wall, one of the best point guards. For me, it's a very good opportunity to take the next step."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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