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Wizards PG John Wall targets January for return to lineup from knee injury

Marc J. Spears
Yahoo Sports

WASHINGTON – John Wall can't go anywhere without someone asking him when will he make his season debut for the Washington Wizards. Wall, who is recovering from a knee injury, doesn't have a specific game in mind, but he has pinpointed a month.

January.

"My timetable is some time in January," Wall told Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday night. "The way I am feeling with no pain, working out and doing it three [days straight] and it has no pain, I'm feeling good. I feel like I am taking the right steps and I haven't had no pain the last couple of days after workouts."

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John Wall is increasing his workout workload in preparation for his return. (AP)

The determining factor for clearance to play?

"When I feel like I can run and do everything like I used to, cut, jump like I used to, run fast like I used to," Wall said. "And I feel like I am getting closer and closer to those steps."

Wall has missed the entire season due to a stress injury to his left patella. He says he has never considered shutting it down this season. He has been living in the weight room, bulking up to 210 pounds while also strengthening his core. He expects to drop 10 pounds before his return.

Wall isn't cleared to fully practice or scrimmage, but he says his workouts have "ramped up." He added that he also has no problems cutting either.

"I always love the game, but you respect the game more when you can't play," Wall said. "I have never been injured before seriously. I'm watching every point guard that comes in and what they're doing and how teams are doing against my team and what I can do when I get back."

[Related: Reasons for TV ratings drop for Christmas games]

The top pick of the 2010 draft played hurt for much of his rookie season, missing 12 games with foot and knee injuries. After learning that playing injured often made things worse, Wall now believes it's better to be patient, an approach he appears to be taking now.

"There is no reason to force myself back and re-injure myself and have another setback where I don't start next season or I got to miss next season," Wall said. "I'm just taking my time.

"If I play 20 games, I just go out there and play them. I'm not giving up on my team and they're not giving up on me. They know I'm working hard to try to get back."

[Related: Dirk Nowitzki makes special hospital visit ]

Sitting courtside watching Cleveland's Kyrie Irving dominate Wednesday in an 87-84 Cavs victory reminded Wall how he used to be viewed as one of the league's promising young point guards. Wall says he feels forgotten as the Wizards (3-23), the league's worst team, struggle.

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John Wall has missed all of the Wizards' dismal season. (Getty Images)

The drop began when Wall was one of the last picks selected for the 2012 Rising Stars Challenge, trailing Irving, Ricky Rubio and Jeremy Lin. Just a year earlier, Wall was MVP of the of the game after setting a record with 22 assists as a rookie. Irving, Rubio, Lin and Russell Westbrook are now mentioned in a discussion of promising young point guards over the sidelined Wall.

Wall averaged 16.3 points, eight assists and 4.5 rebounds last year in the lockout-shortened season.

A humbled and fired up Wall says he is more motivated for success upon his return than he was when his father died of cancer when he was 8.

"If you look at the list of the point guards of the future, I'm not up there," Wall said. "That gives more motivation to me when I get back to show the NBA what I really have to give to the league. They will respect me again. …

"Everybody will see. I won't do the talking. I will let my game do the talking."

The chatter could start next month.

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