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When will Markieff Morris return to Wizards? Plus, John Wall on the All-Star Game

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When will Markieff Morris return to Wizards? Plus, John Wall on the All-Star Game

Here are the highlights from Wednesday's Wizards practice...

Morris still not with the team

One day after he and his brother were acquitted of assault charges in an Arizona courtroom, Markieff Morris was not with the Wizards as they practiced at Capital One Arena. The Wizards expect Morris to make his return to the team some time this week, as early as Thursday. The Wizards play their second preseason game on Friday night at home against the New York Knicks.

Morris won't be participating in that game anyways due to his recovery from sports hernia surgery. He is expected to miss several weeks of the regular season, which begins on Oct. 18. Still, the Wizards want to get him back as soon as possible.

"It's great, that's my guy," John Wall said of Morris' acquittal. "I talked to him afterwards. I told him congratulations to him and his brother. Now, get his butt back to D.C. I'm glad it's over and he can focus on basketball and try to get healthy and be back with the team."

Head coach Scott Brooks left Morris a voicemail, but hadn't heard back from the power forward as of Wednesday afternoon. Brooks expects Morris to spend some time with his family first before arriving in Washington. Morris' first child was born just weeks before the trial.

Brooks said the Wizards linked Morris up with a group of specialists in Phoenix to help aid his recovery. They hope to have him with the Wizards' medical staff and around his teammates soon.

"It's always important for him to be around with all of our guys. That's the tough thing about injuries, you feel left out," Brooks said. "He's quiet, but he has a voice with our guys. he has that calming influence and that toughness. When he speaks, players listen."

The Wizards have been exploring their options to replace Morris in the lineup while he's out through training camp and now one preseason game. It will come down to Jason Smith, Mike Scott or Chris McCullough, but the plans could center around Otto Porter playing some power forward in small-ball lineups. Brooks said the process remains ongoing.

Wall reacts to new All-Star Game format

The NBA's announcement of a new All-Star Game format could affect Wall very directly, as Wall has been an All-Star in each of the past four seasons. No longer will the East play the West. Now captains will pick teams playground style.

Wall didn't have much to say when asked for his reaction to the news, but does think it will be good for the league.

"Trying something new I think will be exciting for the fans to see. It's great. It's like when the lockout was happening, people were going to different charity games and playing. It could turn out to be something like that and be a lot of fun," he said.

And like most basketball fans, he's all for the drama that could come out from captains picking teams.

"You could have players that are captains and might not like players on other teams, so they won't pick them," he said with a smile.

Wall is big in China

After the Wizards beat the Guangzhou Long-Lions in their preseason game on Monday, several members of the Long-Lions showed up in the Wizards' locker room afterwards. They all wanted to meet Wall. 

"Just about every player came to the locker room," Wall said. "They took pictures and some of them got some autographs. It was just like their shoot around shirts and shirts they had on. Stuff like that."

Though Wall didn't play in the game, clearly the Long-Lions players were excited to see him.

Injury updates

Tim Frazier didn't practice due to his groin strain and may not practice on Thursday. Devin Robinson remains out with a stress fracture in his left foot. Both he and Frazier were limited to light shooting work. 

Sheldon Mac remains sidelined with a jammed left thumb. Brooks described Mac as "much better" one day later and said he could be cleared for contact on Thursday. Unfortunately for Mac, there is competition at his position now with veterans Carrick Felix and Donald Sloan in house. Mac had a strong game on Monday, but certainly wants to get back as soon as possible.

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Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Following their seventh loss in 11 games and another lackluster performance in key areas, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks reverted back to a critique that characterized many defeats months ago. He called into question the effort of his team, more specifically their urgency. How they could overlook the stakes at this point of the season and with so much on the line had escaped him.

Brooks wasn't pleased following Washington's 108-100 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night. He didn't like their three-point defense, their inability to force turnovers and their lack of zip on offense. But overall, it was the apparent lack of realization that time is running out in the regular season and off-nights cannot be afforded.

"We have to play with more spirit [and] we have to take some pride in our home court," Brooks said. "We’re building our habits going into the playoffs and these are moments where we need to take advantage because it’s playoff implications in every game."


Pride is something Brooks has referenced after the Wizards' worst defeats since he took over. This one didn't qualify, as they only lost by eight points and had opportunities late to write a different ending. But they were playing a team fighting for their own playoff position in the opposite conference and for the most part did not match their intensity.

The Nuggets, to put it plainly, are among the worst defensive teams in basketball. They were missing their leading scorer, Gary Harris. And they tightened their rotation to just eight players.

Yet the Wizards only managed 100 points, six below their season average, and committed 17 turnovers. Aside from their 33-point third quarter, the Wizards' offense was effectively stalled. 

"We can’t have guys that are not going to participate with hard cuts and hard setups and good screens. We need everybody. It’s not one person, it’s all," Brooks said.


The Wizards only forced 10 turnovers on the Nuggets and only three in the first half. That held back their offense in the sense they had few opportunities for fastbreak buckets.

"That’s where we get most of our offense from anyways, getting stops, getting out in transition," forward Otto Porter said.

The Wizards have lost two straight games. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers and Pacers both won on Friday night.

The Wizards are sixth place in the East and just 1 1/2 games out of fourth, but there is a huge difference in those spots. Sixth could mean meeting the Cavs in the first round and they have won three straight since Kevin Love returned from injury.


The Cavaliers could quickly become the most dangerous team in the Eastern Conference. Their record is deceiving due to Love's injury and they still boast LeBron James, the best player on the planet. No one can control a playoff series quite like he can.

An argument could be made the Wizards would be better off moving down than up, as the seventh spot would match them up with the injury-riddled Boston Celtics. The Wizards are just 1 1/2 games ahead of the seventh-seed Miami Heat.

The Wizards, though, would prefer to move up and they still have a chance to get into fourth, which would mean home court advantage.

John Wall will return at some point, likely soon. In the short-term, Brooks would like to some urgency and for his team to get back to the trademark ball movement that allowed them to go 10-3 in their first 13 games when Wall went down.

"We can get it back, but it’s not going to come back. We have to go get it. It’s time to do it; it’s time," Brooks said.

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Phil Chenier becomes fifth Bullets player to ever have his jersey retired


Phil Chenier becomes fifth Bullets player to ever have his jersey retired

On the newest banner that hangs from the rafters at Capital One Arena, a small microphone - embroidered with a white 33 - is subtly stitched into the bottom left corner. 

You'd barely notice it was there; Phil Chenier certainly didn't.

Chenier, who had his #45 jersey retired tonight during halftime of tonight's Wizards-Nuggets game, didn't even notice the mic, added to signify his three decades as a broadcaster with the team.

"I had no idea there was even a mic on it," Chenier said, laughing. "I'll have to go back out and look at it some more."

Despite the Wizards' 108-100 loss, the night was first and foremost a celebration of Chenier - the 5th player in franchise history to have his number rasied in the rafters. He joins Earl Monroe, Elvin Hayes, Gus Johnson, and Wes Unseld as the only players to achieve the honor so far.

"To be up there with the other 4 names means a lot – people I had the fortune of playing with," he added. "I remember my first day of practice and I had just watched this team play in the finals and now I’m plopped down with Wes Unfeld and Earl Monroe and Gus Johnson. It seemed like they accepted me from the get go."

Many from that 1978 Championship team were in attendance on Friday night, watching as one of their teammates cemented his professional legacy. For Chenier, that acceptance as an All-Time Bullets great is at the core of why he played the game.

"You know, when you play this game, you play for acceptance," he said. "You want to be the best, you want to be accepted. Having players and childhood friends – and of course, your family – here, you’re surrounded by so many people that meant a lot to you both before and now. It’s a really humbling feeling.”

It was hard to find someone in DC without something good to say about Chenier on Friday night. Even in the basement of Capital One Center, after the Wizards' fifth loss in seven games, head coach Scott Brooks took a moment out of his press conference to praise Chenier. 

"[Chenier] is a great ambassador and we all love him," Brooks said. "It's well deserved. It's going to be pretty cool seeing his jersey every time we step into this building."

Fans left the arena with a commemorative Phil Chenier cut out. Phil Chenier left the arena with his number retired. The experience was, according to the man himself, everything he thought it'd be. 

"You don’t know what the emotions are going to be..." he told media members after the ceremony."...Obviously it’s something I thought about, but it really was exciting to see the 45 up there and my name."

Then Chenier cracked a smile.

"I’m glad it’s over with."