Wizards small forward Martell Webster will be sidelined the next three to five months after undergoing surgery Thursday to repair a herniated disk in his lower back, the team announced. He’ll probably take even longer to return to the lineup, since the timetable the team mentions in the release is for his absence from all basketball activities, meaning he’ll need additional time to regain his conditioning, as J. Michael of CSNWashington.com notes (on Twitter). The 27-year-old is under contract through 2017, but his injury puts added pressure on the team to sign soon-to-be free agent Trevor Ariza, whom Webster backs up.
Many of Webster’s skills overlap with Ariza’s, making him a logical replacement should Ariza prove too expensive to retain. There’s been concern about the team’s ability to re-sign both Ariza and Marcin Gortat, and while Michael’s report earlier today suggested that Gortat and Ariza are dual top priorties for the club, but other dispatches have made it seem as though Gortat would take precedence.
Webster is set to make nearly $5.382MM next season after signing a four-year deal for the full value of the non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception last summer. His deal is non-guaranteed for the final season if he plays in fewer than 180 games in the first three years. He has 102 more appearances to go to hit that mark.
The absence of Webster also figures to open up playing time for Otto Porter, last year’s No. 3 overall pick who wound up buried on the Washington bench as a rookie.