Jan 15, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards power forward Nene (42) celebrates with Wizards power forward Trevor Booker (35) against the Miami Heat in the fourth quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 114-97. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Rumors: Wizards' Nene Could Return After First Week of April

Washington Wizards big man, Nene, has been out for weeks with a strained MCL that he suffered against the Cleveland Cavaliers late in February. The Wizards have managed to stay afloat despite Nene’s absence and are currently sitting in the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference. Even though they’re still above .500 and are on pace to make the postseason for the first time since 2008, the Wizards have slipped recently and they could definitely use Nene out on the floor. Well, luckily for Washington, Nene is expected to be back sooner rather than later.

According to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, Nene could return “after the first week of April.”

Nene has missed the past 15 games with a sprained right MCL, but a source said he is expected back after the first week of April.

As Mike Prada pointed out here, the Wizards have played inconsistent basketball without Nene in the lineup, but their defense has taken the biggest hit in his absence. Washington has built a foundation with their defense and they’ve attempted to replace Nene’s production by comity, but it hasn’t necessarily worked out the way they had planned. Trevor Booker and Drew Gooden have given Washington a boost on the offensive side of the floor, but the Wizards have had trouble getting stops as a result. The Wizards’ offense starts on the defensive side of the floor and it’s safe to say they’ve missed Nene over the past month or so.

Nene has missed plenty of games during his time with the Wizards and they’ve been cautious with him since acquiring him from the Denver Nuggets. Although he’s expected to be back soon, I would be surprised if Randy Wittman inserted him right back into the starting lineup. Nene has been on a minutes restriction in the past and it wouldn’t surprise me if that is the case once he returns.

Nevertheless, the Wizards dodged a bullet with Nene’s injury as it seemed a lot more serious than it turned out to be. I’m glad he’s expected to be back before the NBA Playoffs begin and he’ll definitely be needed.

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