Wizards’ Morris to miss at least 6 weeks with neck injury

WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington Wizards power forward Markieff Morris will miss at least six weeks with a neck injury, the latest setback in a difficult season for one of the NBA’s most disappointing teams.

The Wizards announced Thursday that Morris was examined by a doctor after dealing with neck and upper back stiffness since getting hit on the chin during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 16. Morris left that game at halftime with what the Wizards said then was a neck strain.

He now will be limited to non-contact basketball activities for the next 1½ months. The Wizards are scheduled to play 20 games in that span.

The 29-year-old Morris has never appeared in fewer than the 63 games he played in during his rookie season back in 2011-12.

The Wizards already were without All-Star point guard John Wall for the rest of this season because he needs an operation on his left heel and Achilles tendon, and they’re also currently missing center Dwight Howard, who is expected to be out for at least another month or two after having spinal surgery for a herniated disk.

Only four teams in the Eastern Conference own a worse record than Washington’s 15-23 mark.

Wall, Howard and Morris were originally slated to be three-fifths of Wizards coach Scott Brooks’ starting lineup. A fourth starter, Otto Porter Jr., returned to action on Wednesday after missing the previous 10 games with a bruised right knee.

Morris was dropped from the starting five by Brooks during this season and has been averaging 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds in just 26 minutes per game. His shooting percentage is only 43.6.

He is in the final season of a $32 million, four-year contract.

The Wizards open a three-game road trip on Friday night at the Miami Heat, who lead the Southeast Division with a .500 record during Dwyane Wade’s final season.