MIAMI – The Washington Wizards are not sure when Martell Webster will be healthy enough to play again. He is dealing with a right hip injury, an ailment not connected to his previous back troubles but serious enough for Webster to seek a second opinion in Nebraska recently. He also isn’t traveling with the team. What is known is that the injury will probably cost Webster some money.
Webster will miss at least the beginning of the regular season, perhaps more, which puts the chances of him playing in enough games to make his $5.85 million salary for next season fully guaranteed at slim to none. The four-year, $22 million contract Webster signed in July 2013 stipulated that he needed to play in 180 games over the first three seasons of the contract for the final year to be fully guaranteed, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
To do that, Webster needs to play in 70 games this season, which means the latest he can return is after Washington’s 12th game, which is slated for Nov. 25 against the Charlotte Hornets. He would then need to appear in every game the rest of the regular season. Webster’s income for next season drops to $2.5 million if the total is not reached.
Washington could try to buy out Webster for a lesser total – he’s also owed $5.7 million this season – to create a spot on their 15-man roster, but the team isn’t considering that option, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The Wizards still want him healthy and playing for them this season.
Webster, 28, had entered training camp brimming with optimism. He lost 20 pounds over the summer to alleviate the stress on his 6-foot-7 frame and had impressed Wizards officials in workouts. But injuries continue to plague Webster, who hasn’t appeared in any of Washington’s preseason games. He’s undergone three back surgeries in four years and said his right hip is arthritic. When asked recently how he felt, Webster simply said, “Not good.”
His absence comes at an inopportune time for the Wizards. Washington is also without Alan Anderson, another veteran expected to provide wing depth, after he underwent ankle surgery recently with the regular season less than a week away. Anderson is expected to miss up to a couple months.