The only Markieff Morris sighting inside Capital One Arena on Wednesday was on the T-shirt Otto Porter Jr. wore following the Washington Wizards’ practice.
Porter donned the team’s adopted “Deathrow DC” logo, a nickname Morris coined last season. For now, the Morris-inspired clothing will have to do as the team continues to wait for its starting power forward to return to the routine of basketball and recover from sports hernia surgery.
On Tuesday afternoon, Morris was found not guilty, along with his twin brother Marcus and Gerald Bowman, in an aggravated assault trial in Phoenix. After news of the acquittal, John Wall reached out to his teammate with a simple message.
“Told him congratulations to him and his brother and get his butt back to D.C.,” Wall told reporters. “So, I’m glad that’s over with. He can focus on basketball and try to rehab and get healthy and be back with the team.”
Although Coach Scott Brooks said it could be “one or two days” before Morris is back around the team, the timeline for his playing return will be much longer.
Morris has gone 12 days into the six-to-eight-week recovery timeline from surgery. While he remained in Phoenix for the trial, the Wizards connected Morris with a sports therapist. With Morris back in Washington — under the observation from the team’s training and medical staff — his rehab should be more progressive, especially when factoring the intangible benefits injured players can receive from their teammates.
“Very important just to get him back. He’s back with his family, first, then his second family with his teammates,” Brooks said. “That’s the tough thing about having injuries. You feel left out but I’ve been around the group for over a year now. They keep guys engaged and locked in. I mean, he’s quiet but he has a voice with our guys. He just has that calming influence, that toughness. When he does speak up, players listen. It’s going to be good to get him back.”
Brooks has not divulged the replacement starting power forward but when recently addressing Morris’s absence, his words have been revealing. On Tuesday, Brooks offered: “It’s still going to take some time” on the topic of Morris’s rehabilitation. Taking into account that Morris had been sidelined for several weeks prior to the Sept. 22 surgery, the idea of him returning from extended rehab then jumping back into the lineup as a productive player seems implausible. Still, his arrival in Washington should start the true recovery process.
“I’m beyond happy for him because Keef is a great guy. He has a great heart. You never want to see anybody go through that but he’s acquitted so that’s great news,” Bradley Beal said about Morris’s trial. “And now he can just focus straight on hoops. He has a new baby girl now. He has a family he needs to take care of and we miss him here on the squad. … We’re wishing him to come back fast.”
NBA GM survey ranks Washington as top-three team in the East
In the annual NBA.com GM survey released on Wednesday, the Wizards were picked to finish as the third-best Eastern Conference team by 59 percent. Overall, 72 percent of the general managers believe Washington will finish within the top three, behind the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics.
“That was the thing I was most curious about, who would finish third in the voting between Washington and Toronto and I think Milwaukee is a contender,” said John Schuhmann, the NBA.com writer who conducts the surveys. “Washington, a lot of people see as up and coming but the question for me is whether they’ll be as healthy as they were last year?”
The high projected finish strips away at least one point of contention with the Wizards. Previously, players had often expressed their perception of a lack of respect. However, the GM poll shows how lofty Washington’s expectations are around the league.
“We’re not one of those teams that’s going to slide under the radar,” Wall said. “It’s a lot of pressure on us but the same time we put the pressure on ourselves because we want to go further than what we did last year. It’s great to get that recognition but if you don’t back it up, it doesn’t mean anything.”
Wall was voted as the fastest player with the ball, edging out Russell Westbrook with 48 percent of the vote. But Wall can still find a slight within the poll if he looks hard enough. In the survey question asking who is the best point guard in the NBA, Wall finished fourth overall with 3 percent of the votes — meaning, he received just one vote. GMs were allowed to cast a single vote for each category and were not permitted to select their own teams or players.
Despite the solitary vote for best point guard, the poll favored Wall, who garnered votes in the best passer and best basketball I.Q. polls. Center Marcin Gortat also received votes in the toughest player category, and Brooks was mentioned among the best managers/motivators of people.
Frazier remains sidelined
Tim Frazier continues to be held out of practice as he recovers from a mild groin strain. Frazier suffered the injury last Thursday during training camp. Also, Sheldon Mac (swollen left thumb) took part in some shooting but did not participate in contact.
Read more on the Wizards: