Wolves Suspect Blazers Withheld Knowledge of Martell Webster's Injury
That is how the Blazers came to acquire Luke Babbitt and how Webster became the de facto starting small forward of the Wolves.
Only Webster isn't playing. He had surgery Monday to correct a back injury, and he'll miss the first six weeks of the season. When was his back injured? Well, that's a question that has the Timberwolves concerned and quite possibly angry.
Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports via an anonymous source that the Wolves have asked the NBA to investigate whether the Blazers traded Webster knowing that he had an injury that would require surgery. TrueHoop's Henry Abbott essentially confirmed the news in a discourse with an unnamed Wolves official. Abbott goes on to both point out that this is exactly what physical examinations are all about and that at least one unnamed NBA executive is laughing about the latest Wolves folly.
The timing of the trade raises questions as to what due diligence the Wolves did to ensure their new wing was healthy. The team formally announced the trade before the draft had ended on June 24, and introduced him to the local media on June 28. It's unclear whether the Wolves waived their physical on Webster in order to finish the paperwork quickly; typically that is only done if a team is trading for a player it will immediately waive.
The machinations of the Blazers' draft night also looms large. Kevin Pritchard was fired from his job as the Blazers' GM just hours before the draft, but still ran the team's war room, executing the Webster trade and making a few draft choices. As such, it's easy to surmise Pritchard and Kahn had been discussing a possible Webster deal leading up to draft day; whether Pritchard's demise forced Kahn's hand at the last minute only adds to the intrigue.