WASHINGTON -- The injuries continue to pile up for the Washington Wizards and their latest is a big one.
Starting center Thomas Bryant, arguably their second-best player, will now be sidelined for at least three weeks after suffering a stress reaction in his right foot. With Moe Wagner out nursing a sprained left ankle and Ian Mahinmi down with an Achilles strain, that leaves the Wizards very thin at the center spot.
It has gotten so bad that head coach Scott Brooks opened his pregame press conference on Tuesday asking which members of the media were available to suit up for the Wizards against the Magic.
"Can you play?" Brooks asked.
The reality is that Brooks has no ideal direction to turn. He has 6-foot-8 forward Rui Hachimura in at center against the Magic alongside Davis Bertans at the four.
It doesn't sound like Wagner will be out long, but the Wizards will have to get creative in the meantime. And even if Wagner does return for their next game on Thursday, they will have to make it work against Joel Embiid of the Sixers, who is arguably the best five-man in today's game.
"It's been a challenging season," Brooks said.
Bryant, 22, is second on the Wizards in points per game (13.9) and first in rebounds (8.5) and blocks (1.0). He is also their primary screen-setter. Replacing him with the personnel the Wizards have will not be easy.
Hachimura, it appears, will get the first crack at playing center. Wagner, though, could start there when he returns. And Bertans, at 6-foot-10, has the height to play down low despite his perimeter-oriented game.
Other than that, the Wizards may have to do something far outside-the-box like play Admiral Schofield or Isaac Bonga at the five. They will have no choice but to go small.
Bryant first felt discomfort in Sunday's game against the Clippers, the Wizards say. And he will be re-evaluated in three weeks.
Until then, the Wizards will have to get by without one of their most important players and with no ideal option to replace him.
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