Ugh. Just, ugh.
The Washington Wizards will be without Emeka Okafor — who was expected to start up front with Nene — indefinitely due to a herniated cervical disc in his neck, reports J. Michael at CSNWashington.com. Okafor had been working out at the Wizards facilities, had a pain in his neck, so the doctors did an MRI and found this.
“I have worked hard over the summer and was looking forward to the start of training camp next week, so this is a disappointing and frustrating situation for me,” said Okafor in a statement released by the team confirming the injury. “But I have confidence that my teammates and coaches will be able to continue to take steps towards our goal of making the playoffs and that I will be able to do my part to help them once I return.”
And he does plan to return, according to multiple reports (surgery is not expected to be needed). Okafor is set to make $14.5 million this season in the final year of his contract. Last season Okafor averaged 9.7 points and 8.8 rebounds a game in the paint and played solid ball for the Wizards.
Earlier in the day the Wizards lost forward Chris Singleton for 6-8 weeks due to a broken bone in his foot, which required surgery.
Okafor is a bigger blow on the court of the two injuries (which follow a couple seasons of injuries for this team). The Wizards were counting on Okafor to play a lot at the four and spell Nene — who has battled his own injuries in recent years — at center. This is going to mean that Kevin Seraphin, Al Harrington, Jan Vesely and Trevor Booker are going to need to step up and fill the gap. Those names cannot make the Wizards feel better about their playoff chances.
Chris Paul broke his finger Saturday.
The initial diagnosis said the injury wasn’t serious.
Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times:
Paul obviously wouldn’t push it during the preseason. If the Clippers are allowing him to play, this can’t be bad.
Really, the most challenging aspect to this is grasping the concept that a broke finger can be a minor injury.
Brad Stevens has a big challenge this year – sorting the Celtics’ deep roster of similarly able players.
It seems that process is shaking out at power forward and center.
A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:
it appears Boston’s first four bigs will be starters David Lee and Tyler Zeller, with Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk off the bench.
That leaves Jonas Jerebko and Jared Sullinger, potentially on the outside looking in as far as the regular rotation is concerned.
Lee is the best passer of the bunch, which could partially explain why he’s starting. Boston’s most likely starting point guard, Marcus Smart, is still growing into the role of the lead ball-handler at the NBA level. Lee and presumptive starting shooting guard Avery Bradley can take some pressure off him.
Olynyk can space the floor for Isaiah Thomas-Johnson pick-and-rolls with the reserves and run pick-and-pops with Thomas himself.
I’m a little surprised Zeller is starting over Johnson, though. The Celtics just signed Johnson to a $12 million salary, and I thought they’d rely on his defense to set a tone early. Like Johnson, Zeller is a quality pick-and-roll finisher who can thrive with Thomas.
This is particularly bad news for Sullinger, who – barring a surprising contract extension – is entering a contract year. It seems those reports of offseason conditioning haven’t yet paid off. Jerebko’s deal also isn’t guaranteed beyond this season, but at least he has already gotten his mid-sized payday. Sullinger is still on his rookie-scale contract.