Webster back in D.C. as free agency start nears

Webster back in D.C. as free agency start nears
June 30, 2013, 8:30 pm
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Porter a great compliment to Wall & Beal

Hours before the NBA free agency window opens at midnight, Martell Webster let his Instagram followers know he was flying cross-country, arriving in the D.C. area Sunday evening. After shining for the Wizards last season, the sweet-shooting small forward is now one of those players on the open market seeking a deal. He's not the only free agent that played for Washington last season, but he's the most prominent.

With the league-wide financial frenzy set to commence, those interested welcome any clues indicating what will transpire. Webster returning to Washington at this exact moment is not one, so says the player himself. At the same time, Webster acknowledges there is a potential silver lining within the trip itself.

"Nah, I'm just coming to here to meet with the trainers," Webster told CSNwashington after arriving at Reagan International Airport. That's not to say he won't meet with Wizards owner Ted Leonsis or team president Ernie Grunfeld, just nothing formal, not planned anyway.

"I mean, I'll show my face, say hi to Ted [Leonsis] if he's here, Ernie [Grunfeld]," said a grinning Webster, adding there is no established time frame for resolution even if the NBA madness is about to start in 3,2,1...

"Not at all. Playing the game. It's just a numbers game. Got to make sure circumstances are right."

Those circumstances perhaps became a little trickier for Webster when the Wizards drafted Georgetown small forward Otto Porter with the No. 3 overall pick in Thursday's NBA draft.

Webster played last season on a one-year, $1.6 million deal. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 11.4 points  and shot 42.2% from three-point range -- both career highs --  with 3.9 rebounds. Combined with his positive locker room presence, that should be enough in the plus column to warrant a healthier deal from the Wizards or another team.

Even if there is no specific discussion of contractual terms on this trip, Webster sees the positive in that the trip to work out with the team's training staff is taking place at all.

"Right now I just want to come here and get a grasp of what it's going to take to get me back to where I want be," Webster said. "My goal is to come in training camp for whatever team I'm playing for in shape. The fact that these guys are so hands on in the situation I'm in now let's me know how much that they want me back here, which is amazing.

"Like I said before, I just want to be wanted and be valued for what I bring to the table."

Webster wouldn't divulge that value in financial terms. The Wizards don't have much room under the salary cap, but have the mid-level exception ($5.15 million) and bi-annual exception ($2.016 million).

"I know my number and I know the number it's going to take for me to walk away from what's going on  here," Webster said. "Right now, my hopes are coming back here. I love it here. It's a great situation for me, especially in the locker room, the camaraderie, the chemistry that we built with our teammates was - it couldn't be broken. That's the simplest way to put it."

Webster's early career was limited due to various aches, pains. He played in 76 games last season after participating in 93 combined over the previous two campaigns, but the 26-year-old suffered an abdominal injury late last season. One month ago, he had surgery for a sports hernia.

Asked if he's anxious about not knowing how the next few days and weeks will unfold, let alone where he will play next season, Webster cracked, "The moral of that story is injuries suck."

"I'm very blessed to be in the position that I am. So thankful that Ted, Ernie and [VP of Basketball Operations]Tommy [Sheppard] gave me a chance to play here last year when nobody else was going to give me a chance. I accept it and embrace what's going on right now. Nah, it's not nerve racking because I know I'm going to be all right. God has blessed me and he's taken care of me so far thus far and he continues to bless me. That's where I keep all my faith."

The team hopes by selecting Porter - a pick Webster said he also would have made - , they have secured their long-term answer at small forward. In the near term, Trevor Ariza remains on the roster and Washington also added swingman Glen Rice Jr. on draft night.

“This doesn't affect Martell at all," Grunfeld said. "All of those players are very versatile players. They all can play two, maybe even three positions. I think they’re all going to fit in well together.”

Webster certainly fit in well with the team last season, a factor that cannot be ignored considering the undesirable locker room scene just a few seasons ago.

Asked how often he speaks with his teammates, Webster said, "I talk to everybody. We have a group chat, continue to talk to each other every day. I'm serious. Honestly, I love my teammates. They are great guys. I know we're not going to be the same exact team if we get back together next year. I'm sure there are going to be some moves made."