Bradley Beal suffered a broken wrist to his non-shooting hand in last night’s preseason game, and the Wizards announced in a team release that he will undergo surgery for the non-displaced fracture this evening. While a timetable for return hasn’t been set, David Aldridge of NBA.com tweets that the team fears Beal could miss 6-8 weeks, and that a recovery estimate will be established after the surgery is complete within the next two days.
The injury is a blow to Washington’s hopes of contending for a higher playoff seed this season, as it could force them to be without their budding star for 18 games or more. The team is over the salary cap, so it can only sign someone to a minimum salary contract. An additional restraint is the luxury tax line; Washington sits just under $1.4MM short of that number. The team is carrying Damion James and Xavier Silas on non-guaranteed contracts, two wings who could have a better path to earning a regular season spot thanks to the void left by Beal in the lineup.
The Wizards only have 13 of the maximum 15 guaranteed contracts lined up for 2014/15, and they also have room for two more players under the 20-player preseason maximum. Martell Webster is a solid rotation player, but the veteran guard is still recovering from back surgery himself and likely won’t be back, or back to full speed, when the season opens. Behind Webster, Washington is very inexperienced at guard, with unproven wings Glen Rice Jr. and Otto Porter next in line for minutes. Point guard Garrett Temple can man the two-guard spot, but he had his minutes reduced to just 8.2 per contest last year with the Wizards. Veteran wing Rasual Butler is currently with the team on a non-guaranteed deal, but he is at the tail end of his career and only played 7.6 minutes per game last year with the Pacers.
A trade is a possibility, and the team does have two trade exceptions for $1,254,660 and $4,329,089 that could land them a player for more than the minimum without having to match returning salary. Of course, they wouldn’t be able to use much of the exceptions without exceeding the tax line. Zach Lowe of Grantland pegs Jared Dudley and Randy Foye as gettable players for the Wizards to trade for, but expects the team to ride out the injury while adding a player at the minimum (on Twitter). Chris Mannix of SI.com also tweets that he thinks a trade is unlikely.
In his full story, Aldridge suggests that the team will intensify its pursuit of free agent shooting guard Ray Allen, who has yet to signal whether he will retire or return to the court this season. The team would still only be able to offer the minimum salary due to its cap situation, so any increased efforts for Allen would come down to the size of his role, not his contract.