Martell Webster is in a place he never expected to be — the starting lineup for the Washington Wizards. A free agent pick-up last offseason, Webster has been penciled into coach Randy Wittman’s starting lineup in place of Trevor Ariza, who is out with a left calf strain.
Starter or bench player, Webster says he’s beyond the point in his career where that affects his mindset.
“This game is about experience,” said Webster, 26, a seven-year veteran. “The only thing you can worry about as a player is what you can control — how you play, your mentality, your body, your health, plain and simple.”
Webster, a first-round pick in 2005, knows all about injuries. Early in his career, a variety of foot and back injuries slowed him considerably during his days with the Portland and Minnesota.
Now healthy, he’s happy to be able to contribute but says it’s not easy watching teammates go down.
“That’s the way this game is,” Webster said shaking his head. “It’s terrible. That’s the beast of it. Injuries happen. All my prayers go out to Trevor [Ariza] that he has a speedy recovery. And A.J. [Price] and John [Wall]. Man, it’s tough but you got to keep grinding, got to keep pushing.”
Trevor Booker also is sidelined with a right knee injury, and Nene continues to play through a recurring case of plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Between the injuries and the lack of consistency among healthy players, Wittman is having trouble finding a reliable rotation.
With Wall and Price out, the team worked out point guards Ben Uzoh and Blake Ahearn on Sunday, but Wittman suggested that signing a new point guard was not a priority.
“We’re looking at different scenarios,” Wittman said Monday. “Obviously, we brought a couple guys in yesterday to look at. We haven’t done anything, we don’t know when or if we will do anything, but we’re looking at different options, different people.”
Wall still has no timetable for his return from a stress injury to his left knee, and Price’s fractured right hand could keep him out as long as six weeks. Wall, Wittman confirmed, is still a couple of weeks from even being cleared to practice.
“We’re not going to make a snap, quick judgment,” Wittman said. “There’s not a guy out there right now that warrants that, so we’re going to take our time and look at some different guys and see what best fits us moving forward.”
The next two weeks will be the Wizards‘ most grueling to date. They’ll play four games in five nights, starting with road games against New Orleans on Tuesday and Houston on Wednesday, followed by the Los Angeles Lakers at home Friday and a rematch with the Heat in Miami on Saturday. The following week, they’ll play four games in five nights again.
Wittman said Wall’s recovery time won’t affect the decision to bring in another point guard, since the team can sign a player one day and release him the next, but suggested more than once that other roster changes could be in the team’s future.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be at that position either,” Wittman said. “We’re going to look at a lot of different things.”
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