Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura will miss roughly the first three weeks of the NBA season with an eye infection commonly known as pink eye.
The team announced Monday Hachimura had bilateral epidemic keratoconjunctivitis, or EKC, two days before Washington’s scheduled season opener at Philadelphia. Hachimura was diagnosed last week and missed Washington’s final two preseason games.
“The eye doctor said it’s a severe case, and we just have to be patient,” coach Scott Brooks said after practice Monday. “Just going to monitor him day to day. He’s out for some time now. Blurred vision, sensitive to light. Other than that, he’s getting better. Just going to take some time.”
The Wizards play their first 10 games of the shortened 72-game season over the next three weeks. Russell Westbrook is expected to make his Washington debut against the 76ers after an offseason trade that sent John Wall to Houston.
Hachimura averaged 13.5 points and 6.1 rebounds in 48 games during his rookie season after the Wizards selected him with the ninth pick in the 2019 draft. The 22-year-old from Japan isn’t able to practice or do any basketball activities given his blurred vision and light sensitivity.
“I was hoping last week, thinking that it would clear up and in two or three days he could get back on the court, a couple more days later he’d be back, but he has a severe case,” Brooks said. “He’s not happy with what the eye doctors said, but he understands.”
Rookie Deni Avdija, taken with the ninth pick in this year’s draft, could slide into Hachimura’s spot in the starting lineup, though Brooks did not commit to that.
“It’s too bad, but that next man up (mentality) that we have to step up and fill it in by committee,” Brooks said. “We’re going to have to figure it out without him until he comes back.”
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