Just 10 days before the first training camp practice, the Washington Wizards announced Wednesday that starting center Emeka Okafor is out indefinitely with a herniated disc, and that reserve forward Chris Singleton will be sidelined approximately six to eight weeks with a broken bone in his left foot.
The injury to Okafor is particularly disconcerting. The team offered no timetable for his return, although Okafor said he was "positive" he’ll play this season.
It’s the second straight year the Wizards have lost a starter to a significant injury days for the opening of camp. Point guard John Wall missed the first 33 games last season with a stress injury to his left kneecap, a major reason for the club’s 29-53 record.
Okafor said he felt some stiffness in his neck after playing some 5-on-5 recently in New York. When the discomfort didn’t go away, he had an MRI that diagnosed the injury. He said the injury is not degenerative and that he’s optimistic it will resolve itself with physical therapy.
"I was disappointed," Okafor said. "I’m an athlete, I want to play. I want to play all the time. I don’t like missing games. The fact that I can’t right away bothers me, but worse things have happened to better people, so I’ll get right and get back."
Okafor averaged 9.7 points and 8.8 rebounds in 79 games for the Wizards last season.
Singleton was hurt during a voluntary workout at the Verizon Center on Tuesday. He was scheduled for outpatient surgery to repair a fracture in the fifth metatarsal. He averaged 4.1 points and 3.2 rebounds in 57 games.
The Wizards open training camp in Fairfax, Va., on Sept. 28. They begin the regular season on Oct. 30 at Detroit.