As the Washington Wizards travel to Orlando to participate in the NBA’s plan to restart the 2019-20 season, they’ll be leaving behind their most important player. The Wizards announced Tuesday morning that All-Star guard Bradley Beal won’t play in Orlando, dealing the latest blow to an already depleted Washington team.
In a release posted to the Wizards’ website, Beal’s decision to sit out the rest of the season is due to a right rotator cuff injury that he’s been dealing with all season. Per the release, the two-time All-Star had worsening symptoms over the course of the hiatus, and the team’s medical staff decided it was best for him to sit out and fully recover.
“This was a difficult decision and one that I did not take lightly as the leader of this team,” Beal said. “I wanted to help my teammates compete for a playoff spot in Orlando, but also understand that this will be best for all of us in the long term. I appreciate the support of my teammates, the fans and the entire organization and look forward to returning next season to continue the progress we have made.”
While it was previously thought that Beal would be traveling with the team, regardless if he intended to play or not, the Wizards said that he won’t come to Orlando, and will instead “continue his rehabilitation process over the summer.” Since the league announced its decision to restart the season in Orlando after a nearly five-month layoff, Beal has been unsure about playing, citing his concern for the amount of time players would receive to get into playoff shape, as well as the potential for injury.
“The biggest, ultimate question in a lot of ways is when we come back to play, guys are gonna need time to get back right,” Beal said via The Athletic. “In my mind, they need three or four weeks.”
The Wizards will now be without Beal, John Wall and Davis Bertans in Orlando, which crushes any remaining chance of this team trying to break into the playoffs. The Wizards are currently 5 1/2 games behind the Orlando Magic for the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and would need to pull to within four games to force a play-in game. Even then, they would still need to beat the Magic twice to take the final spot in the East playoffs, which is now highly unlikely without Beal.
Washington will now turn toward its youth during the eight-game schedule in Orlando, most notably rookie Rui Hachimura who was having an impressive season before the hiatus. Players like Garrison Mathews who is on a two-way contract, as well as Troy Brown Jr., will get the opportunity to show their worth at Disney World, as the Wizards’ stay in Florida looks to be very short-lived when the season resumes on July 30.