HOUSTON — Almost six months to the day of his third back surgery in four years, Martell Webster will be active and in uniform for the first time this season when his Washington Wizards open a grueling five-game road trip against the Houston Rockets Monday night.
Webster participated in Washington’s shoot-around Monday morning and explained after the session that he was cleared to play before the Wizards’ win over the Boston Celtics Saturday, but Coach Randy Wittman held him out so that he could practice once more before returning.
The Wizards, however, didn’t practice before flying to Houston Sunday and Webster completed a rigorous individual workout instead. While he will be active, whether he plays is unknown.
“Tonight is more of kind of like a filler,” said Webster, who underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk in his lower back on June 27. “If he puts me in, it’s probably not going to be for very long. It’ll be just to kind of get me back out there, acclimated.”
Webster averaged 10.6 points and shot 40.7 percent from three in his first two season in the District. His return provides another three-point threat off the bench for a team that already leads the NBA in three-point efficiency at 39 percent, though the Wizards average just 15.6 three-point attempts per game, the third-lowest in the league.
But Webster’s return also create a logjam on the wing for the Wizards — a surprising development considering questions lingered after Trevor Ariza’s decision to sign with, coincidentally, the Rockets. Rasual Butler’s emergence and Otto Porter Jr.’s continued development backing up Bradley Beal and Paul Pierce on the wing have been more than sufficient as the Wizards are off to a 21-8 start.
Nonetheless, Wittman must figure out how to divide the minutes amongst the group.
“I don’t care,” Webster said of playing time. “I mean, they will fall how they fall. At the end of the day, it’s all based on what you do on the court and as long as we’re going out there doing what we’re doing there will be a place for everybody. It’s all about how you perform.”
Activating Webster also means the Wizards must deactivate another player to make room. The likely candidates are DeJuan Blair, Drew Gooden III, and Garrett Temple.