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Injuries impacting Wizards opening game roster decisions?

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Injuries impacting Wizards opening game roster decisions?

Just before the start of training camp, final decisions over the Wizards opening game roster composition appeared easy, like a 2-on-none fast break. Shame on any of us who had that outlook seeing as little has come easy for this franchise in recent years, especially on the injury front.

The choice of which player or players to keep at the back end of the roster likely will not affect a potential playoff push, one would think. Then again, with three starring players sidelined and the most notable duo - John Wall and Nene - perhaps both out for the early portion of the regular season, Wizards coach Randy Wittman faces an all hands on deck situation.

"It's going to be interesting, it's going to be tough," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of the final decisions.

Wall's stress injury to his left knee, one that will keep Washington's starting point guard out several more weeks, is the bigger picture concern for a team looking to avoid yet another slow start.

Yet it's those missing inside that could lead to a final roster surprise. Nene's lingering foot injury refuses to say no más, leaving the 6-foot-11 Brazilian's timetable for return up for grabs. Kevin Seraphin has missed nearly four full preseason games with a calf injury. The 6-foot-10 big man could easily sit out the final two, slowing the rapidly improving center's progress entering the upcoming campaign.

Without those two formidable interior pieces, Emeka Okafor stands as Wittman's only option at center. 6-foot-11 Jan Vesely is the lone power forward with true power forward height. Combo forwards Trevor Booker and Chris Singleton, both two games back after missing action with various ailments, bring energy and effort but at 6-foot-8 are also undersized for major minutes in the NBA's trenches.

"We're going to have weigh it a little bit. Obviously, we're going to be thin up front," Wittman said. "Your decision in trying to look at who fits that mold best for us, they also might not be the guy you want to keep when those guys are healthy."

The irony is a question entering camp is how Wittman would find minutes for all those frontcourt options, a group that also includes perimeter threats Martell Webster and Cartier Martin. That's why non-roster invitees Brian Cook, who played five games for the Wizards last season, 6-foot-10 Shavlik Randolph and 7-footer Earl Barron figured to be little more than training camp depth despite their NBA experience.

The Wizards replacement plan at point guard centered on having three options - A.J. Price, Shelvin Mack and Jannero Pargo - man the role until Wall's hopeful Thanksgiving week return. Once the Wizards added Pargo the day before the team headed to George Mason, 15 players on the roster had guaranteed or partially guarantee contracts. That's maximum number of players for all NBA teams.

If Wittman chooses the final roster based on the long haul, those 15 are likely good to go. That means three point guards stick, as does Martin and the training staff works triple overtime on Nene's foot and Seraphin's calf.

If Wittman feels another inside option is required, Cook's 9-year resume, 3-point range and rugged 6-foot-9 frame likely tops the list, though Randolph and Barron have shown enough on the boards to warrant consideration. If this is the scenario, then someone must go. Even if out for several weeks, Wall and Nene will count on the 15-man roster.

Martin, Washington's top 3-point shooter last season, signed a one-year contract this summer. This would be his fourth season spent with the Wizards. That opportunity remains, though he has been squeezed for playing time during much of the preseason.

Then you have Mack and Pargo, the battling point guards and players without fully guaranteed deals. Perhaps Wittman decides that keeping them both is not required with Jordan Crawford and Bradley Beal able to run the offense in a pinch. If so, do you hold onto Mack, the Wizards second round pick last season who played 64 games as a rookie, or the 33-year-old Pargo, who offers superior perimeter shooting plus oodles of NBA experience?

Wittman says he does not relish having to make these decisions, in part for reasons that extend beyond X's and O's.

"If I could have a genie come out of the bottle, I'd skip these next two weeks," Wittman said. "This is the worst part of my job; I don't like it, making decisions on guys' dreams. It is what it is. To their credit, all of them are making it difficult on me."

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Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 110-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night...

1. The Wizards didn't start out well, as they trailed by nine points at the end of the first quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. stumbled early by missing four of his first six shots and it looked like a carryover of his slump before the All-Star break.

But Oubre got hot in the second quarter and helped the Wizards turn the game around. This was one of his best plays, a two-handed slam that he celebrated with an emphatic scream to the crowd:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

2. Tomas Satoransky was one of the stars of the game. He had 17 points to go along with eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. 

Here's one of his dimes, a perfect alley-oop lob to Markieff Morris, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds:

3. Satoransky has reached double-figures in six of the 10 games since John Wall went out with an injury. This was a very impressive move, a stepback fadeaway that was super smooth:

RELATED: GET TO KNOW NEW WIZARDS FREE AGENT SIGNING

4. Ian Mahinmi made some key contributions including four offensive rebounds and a steal. This was his best basket, a powerful slam that came at a key time:

5. This play helped seal the victory. It was a smart after-timeout set drawn up by head coach Scott Brooks and it worked to perfection:

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS