Cruel Summer: Martell Webster Out 3-5 Months After Surgery to Repair Herniated Disc
Yes, it can. It always can, thank you very much, Flip Saunders. (And you didn’t think a mere playoff appearance would retire the #SoWizards hashtag,
Per team press release at 2:37 p.m. on this last Friday in June, the Wizards have announced that forward (and sometimes guard) Martell Webster will be out for 3-to-5 months after undergoing microdisectomy surgery yesterday to repair a herniated disc in his lower back. The surgery was performed by Dr. Robert Watkins, Jr. in Los Angeles, and Webster will be available to start rehabbing immediately (but is not to conduct any “basketball activities” during the 3-to-5-month window). Watkins performed Dwight Howard’s season-ending back surgery in April 2012 and also helped resurrect Peyton Manning’s career via neck/spine surgeries; Watkins has operated on countless top pro athletes.
First, the positive talking points regarding Webster, if you will:
1) Glad the Wizards caught this early.
I type this in uncertain terms, as “early” is relative … to nothing. Per the team press release, Webster sustained the injury during a “routine workout” at the Wizards’ practice facility (/basement court at the Verizon Center) last week. Thus, “early” is more relative to when it happened—the latter end of June—and could be better positioned as “luck” that it didn’t happen in the latter stages of October.
2) Martell will be OK. He’s been through this before.
Wait, what? Yes, Martell has previously had two microdisectomy surgeries to repair a herniated disc—once in October 2010 and again in September 2011. The second surgery in 2011 was essentially needed because Webster did not have enough time to properly recover from the first one.
The Minnesota Timberwolves acquired Webster in a 2010 draft day trade from the Portland Trailblazers. On October 25, 2010, the Timberwolves announced that Webster would miss 4-to-6 weeks due to microdiscectomy surgery. David Kahn, Minnesota’s GM at the time, was none too happy, accusing Portland of not disclosing an injury that was said to have happened while Webster played for the Blazers in the 2010 playoffs. Ultimately, as reported by TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott in May 2013, the Blazers agreed to pay Minnesota $1.5 million dollars to settle the dispute before it reached the hearing stage. It was “said to be one of the largest such agreements in league history,” wrote Abbott.
But that particular past is neither here nor there at this point; the present is that the Wizards are facing a blow with another injured player, who seemed to be plagued by nagging injuries all last season (a down year), which happened to be the first year of a new four-year, $22 million contract that Webster signed last July. Also worth noting that Webster had surgery to fix an abdominal tear last summer, and that back issues were amongst his nagging injuries in 2013-14 (even though Webster did appear in 78 of 82 regular season games for the Wizards).
On the optimistic end, Webster starts basketball activities at the end of this September. On the realistic end, that might not happen until the end of November. On the pessimistic end, which could be closer to reality considering how long it took Webster to recover from his first microdisectomy in October 2010, he might be out until after the 2015 All-Star break. Wizards players haven’t traditionally recovered ahead of schedule.
Suddenly, re-signing (and perhaps over-paying) Trevor Ariza is just as important as re-signing Marcin Gortat. (Which could be why reports peg the Wizards as considering Gortat priority 1A and Ariza also as priority 1A). The Wizards, of course, will relay that the importance of re-signing Ariza is unchanged by the Webster injury. Ariza and his agent, meanwhile, will privately enjoy the boon in leverage at the bargaining table.
And suddenly, one really, really hopes that Otto Porter doesn’t look as lost as a lamb with a bad hamstring during this year’s Las Vegas Summer League—barely two weeks away. Against the backdrop of a very deep 2014 draft class, expectations and attention surrounding 2013’s third overall pick could not be lower while still festering below the surface in Washington like a Trojan Horse virus just waiting to corrupt every pixel ever gathered by an AOL email account that has existed for the past 25 years.
The summer has barely started, but onward the Washington Wizards go, already down a draft pick and a player.