Nene's pain is Okafor's gain with Wizards

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,NBA,Wizards,Craig Stouffer

With Wizards training camp set to begin Tuesday at George Mason, The Washington Examiner will look at the storylines for each of the team's position groups this week.

Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld put a damper on the Wizards' prospects at center when he revealed Nene (plantar fasciitis) won't be fully ready to go at the start of training camp. The Brazilian played an enormous role in Washington's season-ending six-game winning streak -- the team was 7-4 overall when he played, though the shelving of Andray Blatche and departures of JaVale McGee and Nick Young also helped.

As long as Nene's not 100 percent, the Wizards have little choice but to turn to Emeka Okafor in the middle. He needs minutes if for no other reason than to justify his team-high $13.5 million salary, which Washington took on in exchange for offloading Rashard Lewis to New Orleans.

If Okafor and Nene are healthy, that could mean a reserve role for Kevin Seraphin, who averaged 14.1 points and 7.2 rebounds in 21 starts in his second year. The 22-year-old was similarly underutilized by the French national team in the Olympics.

Brian Cook's role remains similar to last spring, when he averaged just under 10 minutes and just over three points.

Jan Vesely, a legit 7-footer, also may be used in certain situations at center. Training camp invitees Earl Barron and Shavlik Randolph both are hoping to convince the Wizards to keep them on the roster.

- Craig Stouffer

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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Craig Stouffer

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner