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Wizards weighing their options with Markieff Morris set to miss start of regular season

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Wizards weighing their options with Markieff Morris set to miss start of regular season

Last season, as the Wizards did things as a franchise they hadn't accomplished since the 1970s, they enjoyed near perfect health with their starting lineup. This year, with still weeks to go before the season begins, that will not be the case.

Starting power forward Markieff Morris is set for a recovery timeline of six to eight weeks following the sports hernia surgery he had on Friday. That means he will miss somewhere between two weeks of the regular season or a month. Either way, that's a longer absence than any Wizards starter had last season.

The Wizards will have to adjust and the good thing is that they have time on their side. Head coach Scott Brooks doesn't have to adjust on the fly in the middle of the season. He can spend all of training camp and the preseason tinkering with his lineups to prepare for life without Morris, one of the team's most underrated players on the court and a unifying personality off of it.

"It's not the ideal situation to have one of your starting players out for an extended period of time due to surgery, but that's part of the game. You have to have that next-man-up mentality, which we have," Brooks said.

The timing of Morris' surgery is unfortunate, but there were a lot of factors in play. Morris didn't start feeling discomfort until about a month ago and in recent weeks he has been dealing with the birth of his first child and a legal case in Phoenix. The Wizards had to work around all of those things to get him under the knife.

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Brooks remains confident the Wizards can make do without Morris because he likes the options left on his roster.

"We have versatility and we have depth. We can go in many different directions. We can go small. We can throw Kelly [Oubre] in there. We can throw Jason [Smith] in there. Mike Scott we can put in there. There's a lot of players that we can throw into the mix," Brooks said.

Based on how Brooks described it, don't be surprised if Otto Porter also gets an extended look at power forward. The Wizards found success last season with small-ball lineups playing Porter and Oubre together and that could be the play with Morris out.

"Otto definitely has the ability to play four. It's such a smaller league. In the 80s or 90s, Otto at the four probably wouldn't be the decision. But now with all the shooting fours in the league, I think he can play that position," Brooks said.

Porter, 24, is fine with that scenario. 

"I've played a lot of minutes at the position with Keef. It's a position I've played before and I think I can definitely step up and fulfill that role until he gets back. But we have guys here. Mike Scott, he can step in as a veteran guy that can come in and play the four with me also. We can go small. Coach Brooks is going to definitely evaluated the situation and put us in the best situation moving forward," Porter said.

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The question then becomes how many minutes the Wizards can rely on Porter early in the season, knowing they don't want to rush Morris back and knowing how important Porter is to their chances further down the road. He is one of their best outside shooters, rebounds well and is a versatile defender.

Under the direction of a new training staff, the Wizards closely monitored the workload of each player from games to practices to shootarounds last season. They want to keep Porter fresh and will sacrifice when needed to do so.

Getting by without Morris won't be easy on several fronts. He is valuable as a basketball player, but also as an enforcer on the court. Starting center Marcin Gortat thinks that's what the Wizards will miss about Morris as much as anything.

"He is a tough guy. We all love when he gets those technical fouls because he's pushing people, hitting people and talking to the refs. Sometimes you need that. We're going to miss that. We're definitely going to miss that," Gortat said.

Morris was not with the Wizards at media day on Monday and it's not clear when he join the team. He has a long road back, but the Wizards feel good about their options to replace him while he recovers.

[RELATED: GET TO KNOW WIZARDS TRAINING CAMP INVITE CARRICK FELIX]

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

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USA Today Sports

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

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and the Washington Wizards battle DeAndre Jordan, Lou Williams, Danilo Gallinari and the L.A. Clippers 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. LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Online with no cable TV: fuboTV (try for free)
Radio: 1500 AM

Three things to watch...

Will Morris or Mahinmi play?

The Wizards now have John Wall back and that should certainly help them against the Clippers, but two of their big men are currently dealing with injuries. Ian Mahinmi has a right knee strain and has missed two straight games. He had an MRI that came back clean and is considered day-to-day.

Markieff Morris is also day-to-day, though it's unclear exactly what his injury is. He was listed as out due to right hip soreness on Wednesday night, the first we had heard of that injury. Then, after the game, head coach Scott Brooks mentioned his left ankle and his groin. Basically, Morris is banged up and the fact he isn't 100 percent probably helps explain why he's been playing so poorly in recent games. We'll see if he can give it a go on Friday.

[PODCAST: MORRIS ON WHY THE WIZARDS ARE A TOUGH TEAM]

Payback time

The Wizards see the Clippers less than a week after suffering one of their worst losses of the season to them in L.A. This gives the Wizards an opportunity to right a wrong and get even. The Wizards led by as much as 13 points before L.A. clawed back and won by one point in game that included a bizarre ending where the clock operator started early on the Wizards' final play.

Beyond the ending, several things stood out about that game. Morris (two points, one rebound) and Kelly Oubre, Jr. (zero points, one rebound) had their worst games of the season. Lou Williams (35 points) was unstoppable. And both Austin Rivers (16 points) and Williams hit big shots down the stretch. This time, though, the Wizards have Wall and he will definitely make a difference. Rivers is also out due to a concussion.

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Beal's shooting

The return of Wall should help everyone in the Wizards' starting lineup get open looks and improve their efficiency. He's a master at setting teammates up for the shots they want. Bradley Beal, for one, could use some help getting out of a recent shooting funk.

Though Beal is averaging 23.7 points in his last three games, two of them losses, he's shooting just 36.8 percent, well below his season average of 45.3. Beal has not been himself from three-point range in general this season. He's hitting just 35.8 percent, a far cry from his 39.5 career clip. If anyone can help, it's Wall who often finds Beal wide open off screens and especially on the fastbreak.

[RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS]

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NBA 2K18 leaks new jerseys for many teams including the Wizards

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USA Today Sports

NBA 2K18 leaks new jerseys for many teams including the Wizards

NBA fans got a glimpse at unreleased alternate jerseys from a host of teams on Thursday thanks to a leak by the video game NBA 2K18 and the Wizards are included in that mix.

NBA 2K happens to do this periodically and often the jerseys are exactly right or close to official. It happened earlier this season with other teams, notably the Timberwolves who went through a color and logo change.

Here's a look at the one leaked for the Wizards, one that falls in line with the 'City Edition' alternate that has yet to be released officially.

Keep in mind this is not official, but here you go:

<<<CLICK HERE FOR ALL THE NBA 2K18 JERSEY LEAKS>>>

(Photo via @itscorevisuals, h/t @BulletsForever)

This recent round of leaks revealed jerseys for many teams including the Jazz, Magic and Lakers. See them here:

<<<CLICK HERE FOR ALL THE NBA 2K18 JERSEY LEAKS>>>