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Wizards’ Markieff Morris to have sports hernia surgery, miss start of camp

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When the Washington Wizards open training camp next Tuesday, starting forward Markieff Morris will not be on the court.

That’s because he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia, a story broken by Candice Buckner of the Washington Post and since confirmed by Chase Hughes at CSNMidAtlantic.com.

While we don’t have details on the surgery, often recovery time for this is just a few weeks, and Morris could well be ready for the start of the season.

Morris averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season, and the Wizards offense was 5.7 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court last season. With him out, coach Scott Brooks can lean on Jason Smith or Mike Scott for traditional lineups, but don’t be shocked if he tries a little small ball with Otto Porter and/or Kelly Oubre at the three or four.

Morris also is in the midst of a felony assault trial in Arizona (one where he does not need to attend).

Assault trial for Marcus, Markieff Morris began Monday

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PHOENIX (AP) — NBA players Marcus and Markieff Morris go on trial Monday on felony assault charges stemming from a beating outside a Phoenix recreation center more than two years ago.

The twin brothers could face a maximum of nearly four years in prison if they are found guilty. A conviction would also result in discipline from the NBA, including a minimum 10 games of suspension.

Opening arguments begin Monday following the selection of an eight-member jury panel last week in what is expected to be a 10-day trial.

The trial threatens to disrupt the start of their 2017 NBA season with training camp set to begin for both players on Sept. 26. The Boston Celtics acquired Marcus Morris from Detroit in the offseason as part of an overhaul of their roster, while Markieff was a solid contributor for the Washington Wizards last year.

The Morris brothers are accused of helping three other people beat 36-year-old Erik Hood on Jan. 24, 2015. They were indicted by an Arizona grand jury that year on felony aggravated assault charges. Two of the other co-defendants pleaded guilty Wednesday to the same charges.

Police say Hood was leaving a high school basketball game when he was approached by a friend of the Morris brothers. Hood told Phoenix police the man was speaking to him when he was punched in the back of the head.

Hood ran to his car but fell down, before five men, including the Morris twins, punched and kicked him repeatedly, authorities say. All five left in a Rolls Royce Phantom as bystanders began to appear. Police say Hood was assaulted for sending an inappropriate text message to the Morris brothers’ mother.

Hood told police he suffered a fractured nose, abrasions and a large bump on his head because of the incident.

Hood is an acquaintance of the Morris brothers and reportedly had a falling out with them in 2010.

At the time of the attack, the 6-foot-9 Morris twins were teammates on the Phoenix Suns. They starred at the University of Kansas.

Marcus Morris averaged 14 points last season in Detroit, where he was a mainstay in the starting lineup. He joins Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward as a group of new acquisitions for Boston this year. Markieff also averaged 14 points per game for the Wizards.

Wizards to retire Phil Chenier’s No. 45

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The Wizards have four retired numbers: Earl Monroe (No. 10), Elvin Hayes (No. 11), Gus Johnson (No. 25) and Wes Unseld (No. 41).

Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic:

The Wizards will add a fifth jersey to the rafters at Capital One Arena this season, as on Thursday the team announced Phil Chenier’s No. 45 uniform will be retired this season.

The ceremony will take place on March 23 when the Wizards host the Denver Nuggets. Chenier, 66, played nine years for the team and then spent 30 years as a broadcaster for Home Team Sports and CSN.

The Wizards informed Chenier of the honor during what was set up to look like an ordinary Q&A with Bradley Beal:

Pretty touching.

Chenier made three All-Star games and an All-NBA second team while playing for the Baltimore/Capital/Washington Bullets. He played on Washington’s 1978 championship team, though injury ended his season well before the playoffs.

If Johnson had his number retired, why not Chenier, too? Chenier added to his case by becoming a beloved broadcaster in and around D.C.

Teams should be wary of retiring numbers just because someone exceeds the least-accomplished player with his number already retired. That’s a quick recipe to stuffing the rafters with unworthy numbers.

But the Wizards needn’t worry about that. The franchise has won multiple playoff series in a season only once without Chenier on the roster and never after his retirement. Washington has only minimal history to be proud of, so honoring someone integral to most of its success makes sense.

Report: Jarrett Jack coming to Knicks camp on one-year, non-guaranteed deal

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The Knicks are bringing in another veteran point guard to camp, just to have a look.

There had been reports before they had interest in veteran Jarrett Jack, and he has convinced them his knees are healthy enough to deserve a shot. Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders was first with the story.

Ian Begley of ESPN added:

The New York Knicks and Jarrett Jack are expected to finalize their agreement on Friday or early next week, sources told ESPN. Jack is the second veteran point guard to join New York, which also inked Ramon Sessions earlier this summer. GM Scott Perry had said that he’d like to have veterans to help Rookie Frank Ntilikina.

Jack was a respectable point guard off the bench a couple of seasons ago, but has played just 40 games over the past two seasons due to knee injuries. He’s had multiple surgeries, the latest of which was last March after he had gotten a 10-day contract with the Pelicans. He’s going to have to prove he is healthy, first.

On paper heading into the season, the Knicks have one of the worst backcourts in the NBA. There is the veteran Ramon Sessions, rookie Frank Ntilikina, and the man they dramatically overpaid Ron Baker, and in a pinch Chasson Randle (his salary is not guaranteed until the first day of training camp, Sept. 26). A healthy Jack could get minutes in that group, but they have him on a non-guaranteed deal for a reason.

Three questions the Washington Wizards must answer this season

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The NBC/ProBasketballTalk season previews will ask the questions each of the 30 NBA teams must answer to make their season a success. We are looking at one team a day until the start of the season, and it begins with a look back at the team’s offseason moves.

Last Season: 49-33, advanced to the second round of the playoffs but fell in seven games to Boston.

I know what you did last summer: John Wall was dreaming big, he was trying to recruit Paul George to come to Washington. It’s a nice thought, but the Wizards never had the cap space or assets to come close to a deal for another star player. What the Wizards could do was lock up their own and make small moves to try to improve a 49-win team. Wall got a four-year, $170 million contract extension that keeps him in Washington through his prime. When Brooklyn came in with a $106 million offer for Otto Porter the Wizards matched it, not that they had much of a choice — it was match or create a massive hole in their roster (without the money to replace him with anywhere near the same quality). The Wizards got Tim Frazier for the 52nd pick to give them some needed help at the point behind Wall. Mike Scott is a bit of a gamble but a low-cost one and maybe he can be a stretch four. They picked up Jodie Meeks, who if he’s healthy can knock down shots.

THREE QUESTIONS THE WIZARDS MUST ANSWER:

1) Will there be any help off the bench this year? Last season the Wizard’s bench play was flat-out terrible. Don’t take my word for it, Marcin Gortat said they had one of the worst benches in the league. Or, think back to the playoffs when the Wizards were falling to the Celtics in Game 7 and Wall was obviously exhausted, walking back on defense, but Scott Brooks couldn’t take him out for a rest because he didn’t trust anyone off the bench for even a few minutes.

To help, Washington picked up Tim Frazier as a backup point guard this summer, he is solid and will be better than Trey Burke was last season (or Brandon Jennings, who was brought in to take Burke’s minutes mid-season because Burke was that bad). Jodie Meeks was signed this summer and can space the floor and knock down shots if he’s healthy. Mike Scott maybe plays some minutes as a stretch four.

However, what the Wizards are really counting on to help the bench this season is internal improvement. Kelly Oubre should take a step forward going into his third season, have a good one and he can push for a contract extension next summer. Tomas Satoransky was up and down as a rookie and faded as the season went on, hopefully his shot can improve and he can contribute more. Then there is Ian Mahinmi. If his knees let him — and he recently had another surgery on them — he certainly can help get some stops off the bench, providing a presence in the paint.

Notice there is a lot of betting on health and players developing, still if a couple of those bets pay off the bench will be less of a black hole than a season ago. However, it’s likely still going to be a weakness and the Wizards will lean heavily on a strong starting backcourt of Wall and Bradley Beal.

2) Can the Wizards play more consistent defense? For the month of January last season, the Wizards had the sixth best defense in the NBA allowing 103.5 points per 100 possessions, and not so coincidentally they went 12-4 that month. After the All-Star break last season, the Wizards were the fourth worst defense in the NBA, allowing 110.7 points per 100 possessions (worse than the Kings without DeMarcus Cousins, worse than the tanking Suns, and worse than the Knicks). They were just above .500 in that stretch.

The Wizards are capable of good defense, but they don’t bring it night in and night out. This is a team that is by far at its most dangerous when Wall is leading them in transition, but for the best running teams (including the current Warriors) that starts with stops and steals on the defensive end. If Washington gets more stops, Wall gets out in transition more often, and the Wizards are just better.

With most of the same players back in the same system, an improved defense will be more about focus and effort than some dramatic change. Coach Scott Brooks has to get through to them and get them focused on that end.

3) Is Kelly Oubre ready to step up? Earlier in this preview we talked about how the Wizards are banking on internal development to push them past the 50-win mark and deeper into the playoffs. The biggest question here is Kelly Oubre. There was a time when some around the Wizards thought he could develop into a guy who would push Otto Porter and give them more wing options, but last season Oubre played 20 minutes a night scoring 6.3 points and pulling down 3.3 rebounds a contest. He shot 28.7 percent from three and had a single digit PER of 9.1. His defense gives him some value (he can defend pretty well on the wing), but last season he was still a slightly below average NBA player.

This is his third year and the Wizards are counting on him to take a big step forward. Do it, and he can start to push for a contract extension next summer, but he’s got a lot to prove first. If he’s going to be a quality 3&D guy in the NBA, he has to shoot better than the 28.7 percent he did from deep last season. His defense can get him on the court, but he needs to score more consistently to stay there. In theory, and improved Oubre could play in a small lineup with Porter and Morris, and that would have potential. But Oubre has to be more of an offensive threat for any of that to work.

It’s a tight market recently, and teams are not paying on potential the same way they used to. Oubre needs to show he’s ready for the next step, then the rest of it will fall in line for him.