Rui Hachimura

Rui Hachimura Could Be Out Until February

Wizards rookie power forward Rui Hachimura, absent since suffering a groin injury on December 16, may not return to the court until the calendar changes to February, according to Mike DePrisco of NBC Sports Washington. Hachimura has missed 16 straight contests with the nagging affliction.

Wizards coach Scott Brooks provided the update on Hachimura’s new health status ahead of the Wizards’ 140-111 loss to the Raptors last night.

Before going down, Hachimura was having a solid first season in D.C. The 6’8″ 21-year-old from Japan was taken No. 9 overall by the Wizards in the 2019 draft. In 25 games with the Wizards (all starts), Hachimura has averaged 13.9 PPG (fourth-best among all rookies), 5.8 RPG (first-best), and 1.6 APG. He is also shooting 48.2% from the field and a stellar 85.2% (17th-best) from the free-throw line.

DePrisco notes that Hachimura felt like a prime candidate to make the 2020 All-Star Weekend’s Rookie-Sophomore Game ahead of the injury, but that this new scheduling setback has thrown a possible wrench in an appearance for the talented Wizards rookie.

Wizards Notes: Hachimura, Thomas, Draft, Wall

Rui Hachimura will be re-evaluated in about two weeks as he recovers from “a minor procedure” following a groin injury in a December 16 game, the Wizards announced in a press release. This is the first time the organization has acknowledged that Hachimura underwent a medical procedure, tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic.

The rookie forward met with reporters prior to tonight’s game to provide an update on his condition. The injury resulted from an accidental kick by Isaac Bonga, and Hachimura said he forgave his teammate right away (Twitter link).

“He’s a good kid. It was an accident, you know,” he said. “I saw the video a couple times too. It was like, kind of — I don’t know. I don’t know how to explain but I think he felt bad too. He texted me right after.”

There’s more from Washington, D.C.:

  • Isaiah Thomas was fined $25K for making contact with an official in last night’s game, the league announced on Twitter. Thomas, who was ejected, insisted today that it was an accident, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. He explained that he lost his balance after being pushed in the back. “It was unintentional contact,” Thomas said. “Most importantly I would like to move on from it but I definitely didn’t mean to put my hand on a ref.” (Twitter link)
  • With the Wizards likely headed for the lottery again, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington takes an early look at the draft. He considers former Memphis center James Wiseman the best fit and wonders how the team would handle a guard-heavy draft after making major investments in John Wall and Bradley Beal. Hughes adds that Washington has moved some of its scouting resources to watch LaMelo Ball in Australia and R.J. Hampton in New Zealand.
  • In a separate story, coach Scott Brooks tells Hughes that Wall is filling a valuable role as an unofficial assistant coach as he recovers from injury, but is eager to start playing again. “It hurts John not to be out on the court playing. That guy’s a competitor,” Brooks said. “(When you’re out with an injury), you appreciate it more. I hate to say it, especially with the year we’ve had, injuries can happen with the next play. You don’t really know what’s going to happen, so you play your best on every play. When it’s taken away from you, it bothers you.”

Wizards’ Hachimura, Wagner Not Close To Returning

11:29am: Brooks also offered an update on Moritz Wagner‘s ankle injury today, per Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link). Wagner is expected to be in his walking boot for at least another week and may require an additional 10-14 days once he’s out of the boot before he’s ready to return. In other words, he’s expected to be out of action for at least two or three more weeks.

11:11am: Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura isn’t close to making it back onto the court, head coach Scott Brooks told reporters today. As Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington and Fred Katz of The Athletic relay (via Twitter), Brooks said Hachimura is still expected to miss multiple weeks as a result of his groin injury.

Hachimura, the ninth overall pick in this year’s draft, was off to a solid start in his rookie season, averaging 13.9 PPG and 5.8 RPG in 25 games (29.2 MPG). However, his groin issue has sidelined him for Washington’s last seven games – he hasn’t played since December 16 in Detroit – and will keep him on the shelf for the foreseeable future.

The Wizards have been hit harder than any NBA team by the injury bug in recent weeks. In addition to missing Hachimura, the Wizards have also been without Thomas Bryant since December 1, Moritz Wagner since December 10, and Davis Bertans since December 21, decimating the club’s frontcourt depth. Additionally, John Wall and C.J. Miles are out with presumed season-ending injuries and Bradley Beal is day-to-day with a leg issue.

As long as Hachimura and the Wizards’ other bigs are sidelined, the team figures to continue leaning heavily on Ian Mahinmi, as well as newcomers Johnathan Williams and Anzejs Pasecniks.

Injuries Continue Piling Up For Wizards

The injury situation continues to get worse in Washington and there’s little sign of relief. The short-handed Wizards received permission to sign two hardship players this week, adding Gary Payton II and Johnathan Williams, and both were in the starting lineup for tonight’s game with the Knicks.

The latest Wizard on the shelf is leading scorer Bradley Beal, whose consecutive games streak has ended at 194. Beal is dealing with “right lower leg soreness,” tweets Candace Bucker of The Washington Post, who adds that the schedule factored into the decision to keep him out of action tonight. Beal will get a three-day rest before the team begins a stretch of eight games in 14 days. He left Thursday’s game against the Pistons in the third quarter, but an MRI showed no significant damage to the leg.

Coach Scott Brooks provided pre-game updates on Davis Bertans, who is sidelined with a quad injury, and Moritz Wagner, who is dealing with a sprained left ankle, relays Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link). Brooks said it will be “probably a good week” before Bertans can return, while Wagner remains in a walking boot and hasn’t practiced since suffering the injury nearly three weeks ago. Brooks said it’s “for sure gonna take him some time” before Wagner is ready to play again.

Brooks also expects Rui Hachimura will need at least another week to recover from a groin injury, tweets Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Brooks said the rookie forward is “still sore,” adding, “I anticipate he won’t play next week.” That means he’ll be sidelined at least another three to five games.

Hardship exceptions can be granted to teams with at least four players who have missed three or more games due to injury or illness and are expected to miss at least two more weeks. The Wizards originally qualified because of John WallC.J. MilesThomas Bryant and Jordan McRae, although McRae played Thursday and Bryant appears close to returning.

Rui Hachimura To Miss At Least Five Games

Wizards rookie forward Rui Hachimura will be out of action for at least the next five games, the team announced today in a press release. Hachimura sustained a groin contusion in the second quarter of Monday’s win in Detroit.

Hachimura, the ninth overall pick in this year’s draft, was off to a solid start in his rookie season, averaging 13.9 PPG and 5.8 RPG in 25 games (29.2 MPG). His injury will further deplete a Wizards frontcourt that’s already missing Thomas Bryant and Moritz Wagner.

In Hachimura’s absence, Washington figure to lean heavily on big men Davis Bertans and Ian Mahinmi, with Admiral Schofield likely playing regular minutes too. The club also signed center Anzejs Pasecniks to a two-way contract today, providing another option up front.

The Wizards will embark on a four-game road trip following Wednesday’s home game vs. Chicago, so Hachimura will be evaluated after that trip ends on December 26. His earliest possible return date would be on December 28 against the Knicks.

Wizards Notes: Centers, Miles, Schofield, Ratings

The Wizards are trying to survive with no healthy centers on their roster, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic. The foot injury that sidelined Thomas Bryant for at least three weeks was terrible news for a team that is already missing Ian Mahinmi because of an Achilles injury and Moritz Wagner with a sprained left ankle.

Rui Hachimura and Davis Bertans both started in the frontcourt in Tuesday’s loss to the Magic, while 6’5″ Admiral Schofield was called up from the G League for reinforcement. Katz notes that Wagner should return soon, but he’s averaging more than seven fouls per 36 minutes, so he may have a problem staying on the court.

The Wizards aren’t likely to make a roster move to address the predicament, Katz adds. Jordan McRae and Justin Robinson have partially guaranteed contracts, but management likes both players and isn’t likely to cut them for short-term help. The same holds true for two-way players Chris Chiozza and Garrison Mathews. After a 6-13 start, the focus of this season will remain on player development rather than wins and losses.

There’s more from Washington, D.C.:

  • C.J. Miles had successful surgery today to fix damaged ligaments in his left wrist, the Wizards announced on Twitter. No timeline has been set for Miles’ return, and there were concerns that surgery might keep him out of action for the rest of the season.
  • Before Schofield joined the Wizards last night, he played 38 minutes in a G League game for the Capital City Go-Go, relays Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. He became the first player in franchise history and one of only a handful throughout the league who have appeared in two games in one day. “This is one of those days where you get to fall in love with the game again because it’s so much basketball,” said Schofield, who played 7:19 against Orlando. Robinson was also called up after playing in the early game, but wasn’t used.
  • The Wizards have suffered the largest decline in local television ratings of any NBA team, tweets John Ourand of Sports Business Journal. Washington’s games are drawing a 57% smaller audience than they did last season.

Wizards Notes: Thomas, Wall, Hachimura

Isaiah Thomas is ready to return to Boston as an opposing starter for the first time since the club traded him away.“They’re gonna cheer. They’re definitely not gonna boo,” Thomas said (via Chase Hughes of NBC Sports). “I love them just as much as they do.”

Thomas, who has started the past three games for the Wizards, earned All-NBA honors as a member of the Celtics prior to the franchise trading him to the Cavaliers in the Kyrie Irving deal. The point guard is looking forward to the matchup in Boston — and showing his old franchise that he still has it.

“I visualize going for 50 on them. That’s the plan and to win the game. But I hope that night is not about me and it takes away from what this team is all about,” said Thomas.

Here’s more from Washington:

  • Thomas, who signed a one-year deal with the Wizards this past offseason, believes he can still reach his previous heights, as Candace Buckner of The Washington Post writes. “I’m going to be an All-Star again, for sure,” Thomas said. “I know that for a fact.” Thomas has made two All-Star appearances in his career.
  • John Wall isn’t pleased with FS1’s Nick Wright comparing him to Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams, as the point guard took to social media to sarcastically call Wright a “funny guy.” Wright called Wall and Goff the “anchor(s)” around their franchise’s necks “that brings them to mediocrity.”
  • Rookie Rui Hachimura recently sat down with Joe Heim of The Washington Post to his transition to the NBA among other topics. The Japanese-born forward spoke about what surprised him in making the leap to the Wizards. “Maybe that the organization is very big, and a lot of kind people work for this team. The facility is very nice, and everything is top-level,” Hachimura said.

Eastern Notes: Knicks, Sabonis, Hachimura, Johnson, Henson

Knicks management was “stunned and depressed” that marquee free agents Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant chose the Nets, a team source told Frank Isola of The Athletic. The Knicks have tried to convince outsiders they didn’t want meetings with them or another top free agent, Kawhi Leonard, but in actuality they desperately wanted those big-ticket free agents, Isola continues. However, it may work out for them in the long run considering Durant’s Achilles injury and Irving’s injury history, Isola adds.

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • It makes sense for the Pacers to move Domantas Sabonis if he doesn’t mesh well with Myles Turner in the Pacers’ starting lineup, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic opines. Indiana is reportedly shopping Sabonis because extension talks have gone nowhere. The team should see if they can play together but if it doesn’t work, there’s no need to tie up a chunk of the team’s cap space on two centers, Vecenie continues, especially since it drafted another center in June.
  • Sabonis expressed his disappointment about the extension negotiations and subsequent trade rumors on Saturday, Forbes’ Tony East tweets. “Theres not really much to talk about. I know exactly how the Pacers feel about me now,” Sabonis said. “They know how I feel about that. There’s not much more to say. I’ll let my agents do the rest of it, we’ll see what happens.”
  • Wizards first-round selection Rui Hachimura is likely to be in the starting lineup for the season opener, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post tweets. Coach Scott Brooks said he was “leaning the way.” Hachimura averaged 10.3 PPG and 6.5 RPG in 21.9 MPG during the preseason.
  • Heat forward James Johnson believes he’ll suit up for the opener, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes. Johnson has returned for workouts after a team-imposed suspension when he failed to meet their conditioning standards. Johnson said he just needs to get his body fat percentage down a little more. “You know, body fat takes a long time to drop. So I’m just waiting for that to get down,” he said. “I know my numbers. My weight is good, my conditioning is good, I’m just waiting for my numbers to drop.”
  • Center John Henson‘s injury woes have continually frustrated the Cavaliers, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Henson has been sidelined most of the preseason with groin and ankle injuries. A wrist injury that required surgery made last season a virtual washout for the former Bucks big man. Coach John Beilein was hoping Henson could challenge for a rotation or even starting spot. ““I’ve seen him so limited this year because he’s basically been injured almost every day that I’ve known him,” Beilein said.

Wizards Notes: Sheppard, Wall, Roster, Brooks

New GM Tommy Sheppard indicated in a press conference this week that the Wizards will be giving a lot more minutes to younger players this year, relays Fred Katz of The Athletic. Sheppard stated that the organization wants to have each rookie play at least 1,500 minutes between the NBA and the G League. That represents a significant change from last season, when Bradley Beal led the league in minutes played and coach Scott Brooks relied heavily on his veterans.

Washington has a pair of rookies with guaranteed contracts in Rui Hachimura and Admiral Schofield, so they should see plenty of time with the Wizards. Garrison Mathews, who has a two-way deal, and Justin Robinson, who wasn’t drafted but has a chance to make the final roster, could both wind up at Capital City. Troy Brown, Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemerrio Jones, all second-year players who didn’t see much time last season, may spend time there as well.

“We gotta show them why and how it’s good for them,” Sheppard said about selling the approach to veterans. “But I think they’re active participants in it, and I think everybody appreciates that we’re trying to prolong careers. You make a bad decision on a player — they go out, and they pop a hamstring, or something happens which could’ve been avoided because of fatigue factor we didn’t recognize — that’s on us.”

There’s more from D.C., all courtesy of Katz:

  • John Wall is serving as a virtual assistant coach while he waits to return from a ruptured Achilles that may sideline him for the entire season. Sheppard said Wall is helping to teach the younger players, and the team won’t pressure him to try to return. “We’re not waiting on a calendar. There’s not a clock when he comes back,” he said. “He comes back when he’s 100 percent.”
  • The Wizards have 13 players with guaranteed contracts and may opt to go with a 14-player roster rather than the maximum of 15. “If you have 15 players and one gets hurt, (using a two-way player) is the only way you can plug it,” Sheppard said. “You have 14 players; you can sign somebody and bring them in that’s not in the G League. It gives you optionality … My vision, putting rosters together, it doesn’t make a lot of sense not to hold back a roster spot for the competition, for the inevitable injury, something.” Jordan McRae, who has a $400K guarantee, is considered likely to earn a roster spot, according to Katz, but injuries to Wall and Isaiah Thomas increase the need for another point guard.
  • Brooks, who is entering the fourth year of his five-year contract, will be judged on building a positive culture rather than wins and losses, Sheppard adds.

International Notes: Hachimura, Delaney, Whitehead

Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura won’t play in the final two games of the 2019 World Cup for Team Japan, according to a statement issued by the Wizards and Japan Basketball. After going 0-3 in round-one play, Japan has been eliminated from medal contention, but will continue playing in the classification round. They’ll do so without Hachimura, however.

“Rui experienced knee discomfort and general fatigue during the World Cup, which we have jointly monitored with the Wizards,” Japan Basketball said in a statement. “While everyone had hoped for Rui to finish the World Cup with Team Japan, the Wizards and Japan Basketball believe it is best for Rui to not play the final two games and have a short period of rest before he must start NBA training camp with the Wizards which begins only three weeks from now.”

Despite Japan’s lack of success in the 2019 World Cup, they’ve already secured a berth in the 2020 Olympics as the host nation. Hachimura is expected to suit up again for his home country in Tokyo next summer following his rookie season with the Wizards.

Here are a few more international basketball notes from around the globe:

  • Veteran guard Malcolm Delaney, who spent two seasons with the Hawks from 2016-18, is in negotiations with Barcelona, sources tell Nikos Varlas of Eurohoops (Twitter link). While a deal isn’t done yet, it sounds like Delaney will continue his career in Spain unless he gets an NBA offer.
  • Former Nets point guard Isaiah Whitehead, a second-round pick in 2016, is working out with China’s Jiangsu Dragons, according to Chinese basketball journalist Zhang Duo (Twitter link). Whitehead spent the second half of 2018/19 on a two-way deal with the Pistons, but didn’t appear in a game for Detroit.
  • Dan Devine of The Ringer takes a look at some of the World Cup subplots that don’t involve Team USA, including the dominance of the Serbians, who have won their four games so far by an average margin of nearly 41 points per contest.
  • Former NBA forward Malcolm Thomas, who suited up for five teams from 2012-15, has signed with the Shanxi Loongs of the Chinese Basketball Association after spending the last two seasons in Russia, a source tells Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.