Basketball: Wizards coach says team will not rush Hachimura back

© Kyodo News

The Washington Wizards face a "challenge" reincorporating Rui Hachimura into the team following his extended absence at the start of the NBA season for personal reasons, head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said Monday.

The 23-year-old forward has yet to play this season for the Wizards, who lead the Eastern Conference following an unexpectedly strong 10-3 start.

Speaking after Washington's fifth straight win, a 105-100 victory over the visiting New Orleans Pelicans, Unseld said the team would look to ease Hachimura into a roster that underwent significant personnel changes in the offseason.

"It's going to be a challenge. Obviously, we're playing pretty well and, you know, sometimes as coaches, we overthink it, and you worry about upsetting the balance," the first-year coach said.

"Where he is physically, also the balance of the roster, how he works with those different lineups, will kind of determine how he fits."

Unseld, who took the reins in Washington following the dismissal of former coach Scott Brooks, said the Japan national team star could spend time practicing with the Wizards' minor-league affiliate ahead of a return to NBA action.

"(We're) just trying to find ways to incorporate him and it could be with the G-League, it could be just with some of our younger players. We'll just see how it plays out," Unseld said.

While the coach did not specify a timeline for Hachimura's return, local media reports suggest he could be back on the court by the end of the month.

Elsewhere in the NBA, Hachimura's Japan teammate Yuta Watanabe was again left off the Toronto Raptors roster to meet the Portland Trailblazers on the road Monday due to tightness in his left calf.