Okafor 'optimistic' on recovery from neck injury

Okafor 'optimistic' on recovery from neck injury
September 18, 2013, 12:30 pm
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(Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports)

UPDATE (10:18 p.m. ET): Chris Singleton had "successful" surgery on his left foot to repair a stress fracture. A team official told CSN Washington via text message about the procedure in which a screw was being inserted: "Everything good." 

UPDATE (6:03 p.m. ET): "Felt it a couple weeks ago after playing 5-on-5," Emeka Okafor said in a conference call. "At first I didn't think it was anything to serious, that I was just having neck stiffness. Some time went by, it wasn't getting better, I had a (MRI) picture taken. That's what it was. The best thing was to just rehab. There were a number of options and I decided rehab is the best way to go with this thing. Everyone's pretty optimistic that it dissolves with therapy. As far as a timeline, it's indefinite at this point. The positive are that I had no loss (of strength) or weakness. ... The onset is the worst of this. Things are getting better day by day. I'm not in any serious discomfort. It's just going through the proper steps to make sure it heals properly."

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The Wizards were hoping to begin training camp with a clean bill of health but learned Wednesday they have lost Emeka Okafor indefinitely with a neck injury and Chris Singleton to foot surgery for about two months.

Okafor had been training at Verizon Center most of the off-season and drew praise from coach Randy Wittman for his worth ethic going into the final year of his contract that will pay him $14.5 million. 

But the center was diagnosed with a herniated cervical disc after an MRI exam. Okafor, who felt pain in his neck while scrimmaging for the first time when he was in New York, will begin rehabilitation to reduce the inflammation and hopefully alleviate the pain. The injury typically doesn't require surgery. 

The team said earlier in the day that Singleton, a 6-8 forward entering his third season, would be out six to eight weeks because of a fracture in his foot at the base of the small toe.

The injury comes at a bad time for Singleton as training camp commences Sept. 28 at George Mason University in nearby Fairfax, Va.

He's entering a contract year. The Wizards have the option on whether or not to pick up the final year of his rookie deal after the season and he already had more competition at his small forward spot with the addition of rookie Otto Porter.

Singleton had a miserable 2012-13 in which his minutes were sporadic and he averaged just 4.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and shot less than 40% from the field and less than 20% from three-point range. 

Players have been training and doing individual workouts at Verizon Center since mid-August. 

The loss of Okafor, however, is greater because of the Wizards aren't as deep in the low post. Nene, a 7-footer who is coming off an injury plagued season, rehabilitated all summer but his health always will be a question mark. 

The Wizards signed Al Harrington as a free agent, a power forward who only played 10 games last season because of a staph infection in his right knee. 

This means that Kevin Seraphin and Jan Vesely, a pair of post players who have had difficulty winning over Wittman to get more playing time, must become reliable options.

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