Washington Wizards leading scorer Bradley Beal will not take part in the restart of the NBA season because of a right rotator cuff injury.
The team announced Beal’s status on Tuesday before travelling to Orlando, where they already had slim hopes of reaching the playoffs.
The absence of Beal, who is the second-highest scorer in the league this season with an average of 30.5 points a game, is likely to make the remaining Eastern Conference regular-season matches somewhat of a formality.
“Bradley did everything possible to be ready to play, but after closely monitoring his individual workouts, we came to the conclusion that it was best for him to sit out the upcoming games in Orlando and avoid the risk of further injury,” Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard said.
Washington will also be without forward Davis Bertans, who decided to opt out of playing as a pending free agent, and injured guard John Wall. The team ruled out Wall travelling to Orlando at the start of team workouts.
Beal signed a two-year contract extension with the Wizards last October which will keep him tied to the franchise until at least 2022, and the 27-year-old was preparing to play, even while the decision over his fitness due to his shoulder problem was up in the air.
“I was loving my game this year and how I was playing towards the end of the year,” Beal said last week.
“It’s more or less going to be a decision that comes down to the medical staff and I, just because of our precautions and just coming back from being zero to 100. Then I had some nagging stuff at the end of the year we’re trying to clean up, too.”
The Wizards said it was the shoulder discomfort Beal experienced early in the season that worsened over time. The decision to hold him out of the restart was made in full consultation with chief of athletic care and performance Daniel Medina, orthopedist Dr Wiemi Douoguih, Beal and his representatives.
“This was a difficult decision and one that I did not take lightly as the leader of this team,” Beal said in a statement. “I wanted to help my team-mates compete for a playoff spot in Orlando but also understand that this will be best for all of us in the long term.”
The Wizards hold a 24-40 win-loss record and are in ninth – and last of the remaining teams – in the East, 5.5 games back of eighth-placed Orlando Magic.