The season for second-year Washington Wizards swingman Sheldon Mac appears to be over before it has started.
On Tuesday, Mac will undergo surgery to repair a torn Achilles’ tendon in his left leg. The recovery timetable is 6-8 months.
“Tough situation for Sheldon and us,” Coach Scott Brooks said following the team’s practice on Monday. “I’m assuming he’s out for most of the season, if not all of the season.”
Mac’s contract protects his salary, if in fact he is out for the season, and the Wizards are on the hook to pay him a guaranteed $1.3 million. For the first time in franchise history, the Wizards are a taxpaying team and will not be able to save money by cutting Mac.
In light of Mac’s injury and his salary still counting against the cap, Washington made a roster move and waived center Daniel Ochefu, whose contract was nonguaranteed.
Brooks said the team will continue to evaluate players for the final 15-man roster without considering the additional costs.
“Ever since I’ve been here it’s never about the money,” Brooks said. “It’s about what’s best for our team.”
Although Mac can retain his 2017-18 salary, the news comes as a devastating blow.
Last year, Mac, who made the roster after going undrafted out of the University of Miami, appeared in 30 games and started three. Mac averaged 3.0 points, 1.1 rebounds in 9.6 minutes of play.
Mac spent the summer working out in gyms in his hometown of Houston as well as Miami, trying to improve his game alongside teammates John Wall and Tim Frazier. Still, despite appearing in the three preseason games, Mac faced long odds for earning rotation minutes within a team with veteran depth.
In the offseason, the Wizards signed Frazier, Mike Scott and Jodie Meeks, players that will fill the bench once the team’s rotation settles following Markieff Morris’s return from sports hernia surgery.
“I don’t know if [Mac] was going to crack into our minutes night in and night out but I like what he’s done over the last year,” Brooks said. “If you make the team, it’s tough to crack into that spot as a rotation guy but you’re an important guy on our team. You never know when you’ll be used and needed. I place value in all of our guys. I know some don’t play in games and they want to play more but they’re important for our team, for practices. It makes the practices competitive.”
Wall publicized his support for Mac on social media.
On Sunday night, Mac suffered the injury in the second quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Mac attempted to make a dribble move from the perimeter but when the tendon snapped, his left leg appeared wobbly. Mac fell to the hardwood and remained there until members of the team medical staff lifted him up and carried him off the floor. Frazier immediately recognized the injury. In 2012, Frazier ruptured his left Achilles’ tendon early into his fourth year at Penn State.
“It’s very unfortunate. Obviously for me to see it, I knew it because it happened to me,” Frazier said. “I kind of shed a tear because he was playing so well and he had worked so hard all summer but everything happens for a reason and he’ll bounce back strong.”
On Monday afternoon, Mac could be seen sitting at the end of the practice facility, his leg supported inside a walking boot. Frazier sat beside him. The earliest Mac might return would be the start of the 2018 NBA playoffs, but it is highly unlikely the Wizards would play him for the first time in the postseason.
“It’s tough for him. It’s never easy. Like I said, we still have to evaluate and move forward,” Brooks said. “That’s the cold facts about being injured in this league. You feel bad for him. We’re going to do everything to get him back and give him great care and focus on his rehab but we still have to focus on our team and we still have to figure out who we’re going to keep on that last spot.”
Frazier on track to make preseason debut
After nursing a mild groin strain, Frazier practiced for the first time since the third day of training camp.
Frazier described his first day back as “rusty” but Brooks offered a more glowing review.
“I thought he had a great practice, it’s like he never missed a beat,” Brooks said. “If everything goes well overnight, which I don’t anrticipate any issues, yeah, he’ll play in Miami [on Wednesday].”
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