Teammates since 2012, but John Wall hasn't played a live NBA game with Martell Webster since last season. That's not happening any time soon and if it does in the future, it's likely not on the same side.
The Wizards announced Monday they waived the veteran forward and signed center Ryan Hollins. Webster had season-ending hip surgery in November.
"That’s very devastating," Wall said of Webster no longer part of the roster. "[He's] somebody that will always be like my brother. Somebody that came and helped us in a big year for us (in 2013-14). He’s proven what he can do when he’s healthy when he came to us. One of those players you wish he could stay healthy."
Webster provided 3-point shooting during his first two seasons with the Wizards, serving as one of the primary options for Wall, a pass-first point guard. However, back surgery, the third on his medical chart, before the 2014-15 season limited his availability. Despite some initial optimism, Webster never could get his body right heading into the current season.
"It was a tough last two years injury-wise," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of Webster, his starting small forward for most of the 2012-13 season. "He did everything he could to try to get back to playing. Had one of the best summers I’ve seen. He came here in the best condition that I’ve seen. And then basically right off the bat gets hurt again."
If only Webster suffered an injury, perhaps he remains with the team. On Saturday against Toronto, five of Washington's 15 players were unavailable, including big men Nene (calf) and Drew Gooden (calf).
"It’s tough but we needed a spot with five guys down," Wittman said. "We needed to get bigger moving forward so it was a decision that needed to be made for the team. We’re still going to support Martell, be there doing what we can to help him in his rehab moving forward. That won’t change.”
Wall added said of Webster, "This year he came in with a great mind-set and better shape than from last year when he wasn’t in the rotation. He tried his best to all type of workouts to try to get to playing. When he went down it was kind of tough because you’re like, we need a position, a body. It’s tough to see him go. He helped us that one big year. He was going to be a big part of what our team needed."
Part of what Webster provided throughout his run in Washington and particularly those first two seasons wasn't about X's and O's unless the "O" stood for oddball. From changing hairstyles to humorous comments to simply viewing the world from a different lense than most -- and not being shy about letting you know that -- Webster, who turns 29 in December, helped keep the locker room mood light.
“He’s a different guy," Wall said. "We all accepted him. It was great for our team. He was who he was. He wasn’t trying to be anybody different.”