Martell Webster is one of my favorite basketball players in the league. The Washington Wizards have become known for their personalities, but there hasn’t been a fan-favorite like Webster in a long time. When healthy, he’s one of the best three point marksmen in the NBA, which earned him the full mid-level exception from Washington two seasons ago.
But, he’s not the same player he was two season ago, or even last year.
After Martell Webster inked the four year deal with the Wizards, pundits like Bill Simmons criticized Washington for handing out a lengthy deal to a player who’s dealt with numerous injuries throughout his career.
Still, Webster was one of the best three point shooters in the NBA during the 2012-2013 season, and even beat out Trevor Ariza for the starting small forward position.
3-and-D players are going to get paid, so it was easy to justify the Wizards giving Webster the mid-level exception.
Fastforward two seasons and it appears as if the Wizards have made a mistake.
Webster underwent his third back surgery in nine seasons this past summer, and he hasn’t been the same player since he made his season debut in December. He’s even hinted at retirement after his current contract expires.
Is it too soon to give up on a player who’s been a regular contributor in the nation’s capital? Maybe. But the last few weeks haven’t been promising.
Otto Porter was expected to play a major role in Washington, but now that Martell Webster is back, Randy Wittman has opted to sit the second year player. Porter had some success while coming off the bench, and right now, I think Wittman is just trying to see if Webster has anything left to offer.
In six games this season, Martell Webster has made just two field goals on thirteen attempts. Since he was sidelined for months, it’s expected for him to struggle, but he clearly hasn’t been the same player. He’s looked slow, hesitant, and he’s struggled mightily on the defensive end of the floor. Basically, he looks like an NBA player who had three back surgeries.
With that said, he’s taking away minutes from Porter, who’s shown that he could contribute for a winning team. His outside shooting has improved, his defense is stellar, and he’s one of the most versatile players on the roster.
At some point, the Washington Wizards are going to have to decide whether or not Porter is a part of the team’s future. They picked up his third year option, but his minutes have been erratic and inconsistent throughout the entire season.
It’s clear that Porter is better than Webster, and the Wizards have to find playing time for the former third overall pick.
Washington drafted Porter knowing that Webster had signed a lengthy deal, and they have to find a way to make it work. The only way that might be possible is if they bench Webster, or trade him to a team looking for a wing player.
While his contract may seem “untradeable”, I don’t think such a thing exists in the NBA.
Teams like the Phoenix Suns have done a great job of getting the most of players that have struggled to stay healthy, while the Philadelphia 76ers may look to acquire a veteran and some salary. The Wizards could also attach a draft pick along with Webster to make the deal more appealing.
With Paul Pierce, Rasual Butler, and Otto Porter all on the roster, I don’t think there’s any room left for Martell Webster, especially after three back surgeries. He’s a great locker room leader, and when healthy, a solid rotation player, but his time in D.C. could be coming to an end.