At media day just three weeks ago, Martell Webster gushed optimism about the upcoming season. The Washington Wizards forward was prepared to move on from the 2014-15 campaign, a personal nightmare spawned by his third back surgery in four years. Webster, however, has encountered another major obstacle.
The eccentric 10-year veteran has been sidelined since the beginning of October with a sore right hip, which he said is arthritic, and recently traveled to Nebraska for a second opinion, according to people with knowledge of the situation. Webster, who hasn’t appeared in any of Washington’s five preseason games, went to the same location over the summer for physical therapy. When he will be able to return remains unclear.
Webster, 28, missed Washington’s first 30 games last season as he recovered from the back procedure and could never find a rhythm once he returned. A three-point specialist his entire career, Webster shot a career-worst 23.3 percent from beyond the arc in 32 games and logged just four minutes in the playoffs.
“I couldn’t believe this [back injury] happened again,” Webster said at media day. “That [stuff] gets tiring, man. It weighs on you. I’m human; I’m not a robot. I wake up every morning, I have issues like everybody else and it can come to work sometimes.
“You get to work and things don’t go the way you want them to; it weighs on you. So coming back was a challenge. I had three back surgeries, didn’t play really good last year and they brought me back here. That’s amazing. I’m very grateful for that.”
A determined Webster, whose $5.85 million salary for the 2016-17 season is partially guaranteed, found a new strength and conditioning coach in Portland over the summer, dropped 20 pounds, and, after previously maintaining he planned to retire by 30, declared he could play another five or six years. Wizards officials were encouraged with Webster’s workouts and he was prepared to assume the role of stretch power forward in the Wizards’ revamped offense. Instead, he is dealing with another setback.
Wall expects to play in final two exhibitions
John Wall wasn’t with the Wizards for their victory over the Bucks in Milwaukee on Saturday. He was in Washington participating in the Light the Night Walk in honor of his friend DeMiyah Telemaque-Nelson, who died of Burkitt’s lymphona last December at the age of five.
“It was cool. It was exciting,” Wall said. “It was fun to go out there and support and see a lot of amazing people out there.”
Coach Randy Wittman said he planned on giving Wall the night off regardless coming off a game the night before in Philadelphia. Wall, however, expects to play in Washington’s final two preseason games — Wednesday against the Miami Heat and Friday against the Toronto Raptors.
“Just going off what we’ve been going through in practices, trying to get prepared for the regular season, his decision [for me] I think is to play both games,” Wall said.
Wittman explained rotation won’t change much. Starters will continue logging 22-25 as they have for most of the preseason. He did, however, emphasize giving Jared Dudley and Garrett Temple ample playing time as they return from injuries with just a week remaining until the regular season opener.