Wizards' Wall out for the season after surgery

WASHINGTON • The Washington Wizards' year of agony continued on Saturday, when the National Basketball Association team said five-time All-Star John Wall will require surgery that will sideline him for the rest of the season.

The guard will undergo a procedure that will remove bone enlargements on the back of his left heel and repair a "chronic Achilles' tendon injury", the team announced.

Wall is expected to be out for at least six to eight months after undergoing an operation earlier this week. The Wizards will now have to play their remaining 45 games without him - just before he becomes a "super-max" player.

His contract extension will kick in next season with an annual salary starting at US$37.8 million (S$51.6 million) and he will be under contract through at least the 2022-23 season.

With the surgery, Wall will join Dwight Howard as the second Wizards starter to miss significant time on court, casting another pall over their already gloomy term.

They ended a three-game losing streak on Saturday with a 130-126 win over the Charlotte Hornets, improving to 14-23, only six games from last place in the Eastern Conference.

Scott Brooks' players went into the game having lost nine of their past 11.

"It's serious but he's been battling this for years," his coach said of Wall's injury.

Though his offensive statistics have been comparable to his averages from previous All-Star seasons (20.7 points, 8.7 assists, 3.6 rebounds per game), his defensive performance has suffered.

According to Synergy Sports, the 28-year-old ranks in the 49th percentile of "man" defence in the half court, allowing 0.919 points per possession.

"He's battled this throughout the year and we tried to manage it," Brooks said. "He's done a good job of managing it in certain games, and certain games it wasn't as good. But he never, ever complained. Never complained to me.

"I knew there were games that he wasn't up to par, and he didn't play as well as he would have liked or move as well as he would have liked.

"He wanted to compete, but it got to the point where we had to make some tough decisions. That's why he met with a specialist."

The absence of Wall will place more responsibility on 2018 All-Star Bradley Beal, who ranks fourth in the NBA with an average of 36.6 minutes per game.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 31, 2018, with the headline 'Wizards' Wall out for the season after surgery'. Print Edition | Subscribe