With the worst season of his career over, Martell Webster is no longer considering retirement when his contract with the Wizards expires after 2016-17.
“It’s great because of the weight. I dropped 20 pounds. I feel amazing," Webster said Monday when asked about his back at the team's media day session at Verizon Center. "I’m still relatively young. Twenty-eight years old. I know I said I was going to be done playing in a couple years but if I continue to take this approach I got a good five, six in me. We’ll see what happens."
Noticeably more trim, it didn't appear there would be room for Webster in the rotation with the acquisitions of Jared Dudley, Alan Anderson and Kelly Oubre. All three can play small forward. But as CSNmidatlantic.com reported more than a month ago, the plan is to use Webster, who is 6-8, as a "stretch" power forward.
"It’s not a secret. I know. Me and coach talked about it. Come (Tuesday)," Webster said, alluding to the opening of training camp, "really be focusing on getting down on the side where the fours are running through plays, trying to pick up that stuff. I’m pretty familiar with it. It should be an easy adjustment for me. It’s going to be fun.
"I have to get a little bit stronger by my main goal for this year is try to play light. I will do that because I feel amazing."
When Webster was a lottery pick of his hometown Portland Trail Blazers in 2005, he played the position. Webster played in 32 games last season, the second fewest appearances of his career, and mostly watched the Wizards from the bench. He'd missed the first half of the season because of back surgery and never looked comfortable on the floor. He shot a career-low 23.3% from three which is supposed to be his bread and butter. It led to a misery, and it showed on his face and in his attitude every day as he watched Otto Porter take the minutes ahead of him.
"I couldn't believe this (back injury) happened again. That (expletive) gets tiring, man. It weighs on you. I’m human. I’m not a robot. I wake up every morning, I have issues like everybody else and it can come to work sometimes," Webster said. "You get to work and things don’t go the way you want them to, it weighs on you. So coming back was a challenge. … I had three back surgeries, didn’t play really good last year and they brought me back here. That’s amazing. I’m very grateful for that."
Webster started preparing for this season quickly after the Wizards were eliminated in the East semifinals by the Atlanta Hawks. He didn't pick up a basketball much in the offseason. Instead, he worked on his body mechanics to strengthen his back and relieve the pressure on it by shedding weight.
“Before the season was over I started searching conditioning coaches in Portland and found one. We were in contact three days after we were knocked out and started building a regimen. My main focal point for the offseason was schedule," Webster said. "My wife is amazing. She’s so schedule-oriented. ... I took that approach. I sat down next to here and we went six straight hours with me going over my emails with things I need to do once I got back to Portland and putting them in my calendar. At the end of that I was exhausted. It changed my perspective on how I want to approach myself and it has worked. Once I got back to Portland things ran efficiently. It sucks because you got to schedule time with your wife to go out to dinner, movie night, but it needs to happen for things to run smoothly."
Webster is banking on the change of location and approach to his preparation will result in a season closer to the one he had in 2012-13, his first in D.C., when he averaged a career-high 11.4 points.
"I’m always young-hearted, young-minded, so when I get out on the court I just want to be out here forever. I realized that does more harm than good," he said of what led to his initial back problems before coming to the Wizards. "Me really taking the approach of come out here, get efficient work in in an hour, hour and a half, and get the hell out of the gym, get into the workout room, get on the table and work on functional movements and range of motion like taking that approach is going to allow me to stay in this league a hell of a lot longer."
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