Webber decides against surgery Bullet sees specialist, opts for rehabilitation


ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- It was one of those good news/bad news kind of days that could only strike the injury-marred Washington Bullets.

Believe it or not, the good news for the team yesterday is that forward Chris Webber, after seeing an independent shoulder specialist, is expected to miss four to five weeks of the NBA season, but not have surgery as he rehabilitates his separated left shoulder.

The bad news: Point guard Mark Price, who has practiced just one day since becoming a Bullet, is not expected to be back for the season opener as he continues to recover from the sore plantar fascia of his left foot.

Webber, who reinjured his shoulder in Saturday's preseason game against the Indiana Pacers, was scheduled to see team doctors yesterday. Instead, he went to Richmond, Va., to visit Dr. Richard Caspari, a specialist in treating shoulder injuries.

Caspari lists among his clients Cleveland Browns quarterback Vinny Testaverde, former major-league pitcher Frank Tanana and gymnast Mary Lou Retton.

If the four- to five-week timetable holds up, Webber could return as early as Nov. 22, missing only eight regular-season games. Webber missed 19 games last season after separating the shoulder Dec. 22.

"Last year, it was close to six weeks; this year, it's close to a month," Bullets coach Jim Lynam said. "It's going to take some doing to make up for Chris' absence, without any question. What I feel bad about, above everything else, is Chris."

If surgery is required, Webber would wait until after the season, said his agent, Fallasha Erwin. Webber is scheduled to be examined by Bullets doctors tomorrow.

A week ago today, Webber missed practice after complaining about soreness in the shoulder. That was one night after Webber and Chicago Bulls center Luc Longley traded shoves in an altercation that led to both players being fined $7,500 and suspended for one regular-season game.

Price was expected to travel with the team for all the current preseason trip, which ends on Sunday in Mexico City. And the Bullets expected that, with three weeks of rest, he would be ready to play the Nov. 3 opener against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Instead, Price left the team yesterday, one day after experiencing discomfort in his foot after a simple shooting drill in Toronto. He is expected to be examined by team doctors today.

"It's bothering him; it's not a good sign," Lynam said.

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