The Washington Wizards announced Jared Dudley will be out 3-4 months after back surgery for a herniated disc in his lower back. The surgery puts his availability for the start of the 2015-16 NBA season in serious question.
Here's part of the announcement from the team:
"During our discussions with Jared and his agent, Mark Bartelstein, we were made aware that he played with pain for a significant part of last season due to this injury," said Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld. "After jointly consulting with our team doctors and several specialists, we collectively determined that this proactive approach was the best course of action to have him ready for the upcoming season and to prevent the risk of further injury."
The procedure was performed by Dr. Drew Dossett in Dallas, TX. Dudley missed four games last season due to a sore lower back in addition to playing through pain caused by the injury.
"Although I'm disappointed that I won't be on the floor with my new teammates for the start of training camp, I'm confident that having this surgery now will allow me to perform at my best and contribute throughout the season," said Dudley. "I appreciate the patience and support of the organization and I can assure my teammates and the fans that I will work extremely hard to be on the floor as soon as possible."
If Jared Dudley were able to make it back in exactly three months from his surgery, he'd be back October 21st, which would allow him to return in time for the very start of the regular season. If it takes four full months, the Wizards would already be at least three weeks into the season, if not longer, depending on how the NBA crafts their schedule this season.
Then again, if past history is any indicator, Dudley's recovery could take longer. If you'll recall, the Wizards announced Martell Webster would miss 3-5 months after undergoing back surgery on June 27, 2014. He stayed on the inactive list until December 29, a full six months after the surgery. Granted there are a few caveats: Webster had two previous back surgeries, and the Wizards didn't need to rush him back because of how well Rasual Butler filled in to start the season.
Needless to say, it will be harder for the Wizards to deal with Dudley's absence, at least in the short-term. With Dudley on the shelf, the Wizards don't have another suitable option who can fill the combo-forward role, splitting time between the 3 and the 4. Instead, the Wizards will need to hope Drew Gooden and Kris Humphries are up to the challenge of spacing the floor at the power forward position and hoping Alan Anderson can provide some depth at the wing positions for the Wizards.
Given how the team is talking about the surgery in the press release, it certainly appears as though they were comfortable taking the risk Dudley could miss some time to start the season. Now we finally have a better understanding of why Dudley decided to opt-in rather than chase a raise this summer, why the Bucks were willing to part with someone who did so much for them last season, and why they accepted so little in return.
Fortunately for the Wizards, whether they win or lose on this gamble, the consequences aren't grave, as Dudley is only on the books for this season at $4.25 million. Still, if he can't regain his form after surgery, it will put a serious damper on the Wizards' ability to build upon their success of the past two seasons.