Grunfeld, Wittman very happy to take Porter
After the Wizards drafted a pair of versatile players who can play small forward and shooting guard, free agent Martell Webster told CSN Washington that he understand if the team moves on without him.
Webster, an eight-year veteran going into free agency that opens July 1, started 62 games for the Wizards last season. He played on a one-year, $1.6 million deal. He averaged 11.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and shot 42.2% from three-point range.
"I love DC but I understand this business. You have to secure the future of the franchise so there is a reason for drafting young guys," he said in an email Friday to CSN. "Otto (Porter) has the chance to be a really good player. I would have drafted him, too. I just want to be wanted."
Of course, the prankster that Webster is, he joked about sounding like a "pity case."
Webster was top five in the NBA from long distance until an abdominal injury hampered him in the last few months of the season.
The Wizards drafted Porter at No. 3 overall and traded for Glen Rice Jr. in the second round. Porter is a versatile 6-8 forward who can guard and play multiple positions on the perimeter. Rice, the son of former NBA player Glen Rice Sr., is a 6-5 shooting guard who could log time at small forward, too.
That causes a logjam as the Wizards already have Trevor Ariza, a 6-7 small forward who is the team’s best one-on-one defender, returning. Webster is 6-7.
After the Wizards chose Porter, president Ernie Grunfeld insisted that Webster's status wouldn't be impacted. Webster was relied on heavily because of injuries throughout the roster and had his playing time increase in a 29-53 season.
Webster said before the season ended that he’d be willing to return to his role off the bench if necessary, but he’d want a raise. The Wizards don't much room under the salary cap, but they do have a mid-level exception ($5.1 million) and bi-annual exception ($2 million) available as a non-taxpaying team.
“This doesn't affect Martell at all. All of those players are very versatile players. They all can play two, maybe even three positions,” Grunfeld said. “I think they’re all going to fit in well together.”
With smaller lineups becoming the norm in the NBA –- using three guards or three forwards, or sometimes more –- could mean the coach Randy Wittman will have some new looks.
John Wall, Bradley Beal, Porter, Webster and Nene? Or substitute Rice or Ariza for Webster. Or maybe leave Webster in and sideline Nene.
The opportunities could be endless, but Rice has to perform, Webster has to be certain he still wants to be here and his asking price has to be in the Wizards' range. Wittman lauded Webster's locker room presence and maturity as a calming influence. He already has expressed his desire to keep Webster.
Every other indication points to the rest of the Wizards' staff wanting him back, too.
"If things don't work out all I can say is thank you to (owner) Ted Leonsis, Ernie and (vice president) Tommy (Sheppard) for giving me the opportunity to showcase my talent and giving me a home for a year," Webster wrote. "Most fun I've had in my NBA career."