The injury woes just don’t stop for the Washington Wizards. Less than a week ago, the Wizards announced John Wall will undergo heel surgery and miss the remainder of the season. Now, power forward Markieff Morris will miss at least six weeks after being examined by a doctor for neck and upper back stiffness. Morris last played December 26th and missed the Wizards’ last three games. The official diagnosis: transient cervical neuropraxia.
Report: Markieff Morris To Miss Six Weeks with Neck Issue
This is just the latest in a season-long series of blows to the Wizards. With Morris sidelined throughout January, the Wizards will now be without three of this season’s originally projected starters: Markieff Morris, John Wall and Dwight Howard. The Morris news comes just one game after fellow starting forward Otto Porter Jr. finally returned to the floor after missing 10 games in December with a bruised right knee.
Morris had been having a decent season for the Wizards, although not stellar. After 16 games, coach Scott Brooks moved Morris from the starting lineup to the bench. Morris took the change in stride and proved to be effective off the bench after serving as an everyday starter for more than two seasons in Washington. For the season, Morris is averaging 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds in 26 minutes. He is currently in the final year of his four-year, $32 million contract.
Tough Road Ahead
Unfortunately for the Wizards, their upcoming schedule doesn’t exactly play to their favor through these injuries. Morris is expected to miss at least six weeks. In that time, the Wizards will play the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers (2x), Milwaukee Bucks (3x), Toronto Raptors (2x), Detroit Pistons (2x), Golden State Warriors and Indiana Pacers. Of the 20 games they’ll play over the next 6 weeks, 11 are vs teams with a .500 record or better. Thirteen of them are against current “playoff” teams.
That’s a tough stretch for any team, even if healthy. And the Wizards are far from healthy. By the All-Star break, Washington could already be looking towards next year.
More Lineup Changes
With all these injuries, Brooks will need to get even more creative with how he uses his lineups. Although, maybe he’s already found what he likes. In the last two games (wins over the Charlotte Hornets and Atlanta Hawks) he has shown an affinity for his new starting group, playing them together for 53 minutes.
Scott Brooks playing the starters (Sato/Beal/Green/Ariza/Bryant) 27 minutes tonight means he's played that lineup for 53 minutes over the last two games, which is absolutely wiiiiild. That's more than half the available time. He's gone all in on playing this group together.
— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) January 3, 2019
Starters being out means new faces in Washington have seen more and more floor time, including Sam Dekker, Chasson Randle, and Troy Brown Jr. The emergence of Thomas Bryant has given the Wizards a much needed presence in the post during Howard’s absence. However, the burden still lies squarely on Bradley Beal’s shoulders if the Wizards have any chance of turning this disappointing season around.
Can their all-star guard lead a revival in the nation’s capital? Or is this latest injury truly the last straw that leads to a Wizards rebuild?