Beal suffered the injury when Hornets forward P.J. Hairston fouled him with 2 minutes 22 seconds remaining in the first quarter of Charlotte’s 99-86 victory in Greenville, S.C. Beal stayed in the game to make his two free throws, but was taken out 24 seconds later and did not return.
Beal, 21, is entering his third NBA season with lofty expectations. The third overall pick out of Florida in the 2012 draft, Beal was limited to 56 games his rookie year due to various injuries. He bounced back to average 17.1 points in 73 games last season and increased his offensive production in the playoffs, averaging 19.2 points in 11 games and breaking out on the national stage in the process.
Now the confident back court will not have the opportunity to prove their standing for the first few weeks of the regular season, and Beal’s absence will leave a gaping hole at the one position in which the Wizards, who hope to contend for the Eastern Conference title, lack significant depth.
The Wizards are already shorthanded at shooting guard as Martell Webster continues to rehab following back surgery in late June. Webster was given a timetable of three to five months recovery and hasn’t participated in a full-contact team practice. Garrett Temple and Glen Rice Jr., who was the Las Vegas Summer League MVP and scored a game-high 18 points in the Wizards’ preseason opener against the Bulls on Monday, are the other shooting guards on the roster. Paul Pierce and Otto Porter Jr. could also possibly slide over from small forward.
Xavier Silas is another potential in-house option. Washington has 14 players with guaranteed contracts so Silas, a Wizards training camp invitee for the second straight year, has an opportunity to claim the 15th and final spot. Silas, 26, boosted his candidacy by scoring a team-high 16 points in his preseason debut Friday. The Wizards could sign Silas to an non-guaranteed contract until January, when all contracts must become guaranteed.
The salary cap could force the Wizards to seek answers internally. The luxury tax threshold stands at $76.8 million this season and Washington’s payroll is already $75.3 million. The Wizards could use the $1.2 million trade exception they acquired in February as part of a three-team deal that sent Eric Maynor to the Philadelphia 76ers and brought Andre Miller to the District.
Washington also possesses a $4.3 million trade exception — half of the $8.6 million trade exception acquired from the Houston Rockets as part of the sign-and-trade deal for Trevor Ariza — but the slim salary cap room makes engineering a trade with that exception difficult without crossing the luxury tax threshold.
On the court, the Wizards won two of three road games in five nights to begin the preseason. But the results are meaningless and the Wizards returned home to a day off with an injured star and another setback for the franchise.