The Washington Wizards will not come out unscathed this summer.
The back issues continue for Martell Webster, who had surgery Friday to repair a herniated disk in his lower back that will keep him out 3-5 months before resuming basketball activities, the team announced.
The Wizards, who signed Martell Webster to the full-mid level exception following an outstanding first season with the team, will probably miss him for the beginning of the season. Martell Webster is unfortunately no stranger to back issues and had a similar procedure done multiple times to repair issues. He has two more guaranteed seasons left with the Wizards, but now that he’ll be out for quite some time, the team will almost certainly do whatever it takes to re-sign Trevor Ariza.
Questions were raised after the Wizards gave Martell Webster a 4-year contract extension following a career season playing along side John Wall, and now that he’ll be out, those questions will be brought back up. Did the Wizards make a mistake by re-signing Webster, despite knowing his injury plagued past? As of right now, those questions will remain unanswered. Webster did average over 11 points per game with the Wizards just a year ago while becoming one of the league’s deadliest three point threats, but he was clearly hurt during the course of the season and playoffs, noting a few nagging injuries which held his performance back.
Otto Porter will likely be called upon to fill Martell Webster’s role next season, which makes his development even more important. The Wizards planned on bringing the 20-year old former third overall pick along slowly, but it looks like he’ll be expected to play a much larger role next season. Summer League will be huge for Otto Porter and it will give him a chance to show his growth since the season ended. Even though he did show some flashes near the end of the season, he still hasn’t lived up to expectations, but he will finally get a chance to prove himself.
This injury news is unfortunate, and even when it looked like the Wizards were all set at the small forward position, they will take a hit. Trevor Ariza is an unrestricted free agent, Martell Webster is hurt and Otto Porter is unproven. Even if the Wizards re-sign both Marcin Gortat, who they’re visiting in Poland, and Trevor Ariza, they will have enough cap space to add another solid wing player via free agency. C.J. Miles, Danny Granger, Mike Miller, Marvin Williams and Caron Butler are all possible veteran free agents that could come cheap. Both Ariza and Webster had career seasons with John Wall, so it wouldn’t hurt to add another veteran forward, knowing that his production will increase when playing along side Wall.
On top of adding a free agent small forward, Glen Rice Jr. may also play a bigger role next season along with Otto Porter. Rice was terrific in the NBA Developmental League and could fill the scoring void left by Martell Webster.
Free agency will start on July 1st and look for the Wizards to address multiple needs. After this injury news to Martell Webster, adding another wing player could be a decent place to start.