Wizards retain Webster with $22 million deal

Wizards retain Webster with $22 million deal
July 2, 2013, 2:45 pm
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Outtakes from John Wall, Dwight Howard practicing Mandarin

Martell Webster yearned to be wanted, and the Wizards showed just how much the feeling was mutual by signing him to a $22 million deal for four years Tuesday, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to CSN Washington.

The last year of the deal is not fully guaranteed. The Wizards have the option to buy Webster out in the final year of the contract. Before Webster came to the Wizards, he was due $5.7 million in the final year of his deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but they bought him out for $600,000.

It was no secret that Webster was highly coveted by the team. At different junctures as a 29-53 season wound to a close, owner Ted Leonsis, president Ernie Grunfeld and coach Randy Wittman said they wanted the eight-year veteran small forward to return.

Webster had the best season of his career by averaging 11.4 points and 42.2% three-point shooting. He was signed then as a free agent to a one-year, $1.6 million deal. He scored a career-high 34 points vs the Phoenix Suns on March 16, making 7 of 10 three-point shots.

Webster’s demeanor and locker room presence is sorely needed for the Wizards, who have a young backcourt in Bradley Beal (20) and John Wall (22) and a host of young forwards in Kevin Seraphin, Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely and Trevor Booker.

Keeping Webster means the Wizards are loaded at the position, already having drafted Otto Porter and Glen Rice Jr. and with Trevor Ariza exercising the final-year option on his contract.

With the NBA such a perimeter-oriented game and so many teams playing “small ball,” the Wizards will be in good position to combat that and put their own version on the floor.

Webster’s three-point range is valuable not only because the Wizards weren't a good shooting team from deep, but he gets his hands dirty on defense, too.

Wittman will be able to mix and match his lineups and flood the floor with shooters, provided Porter and Rice live up to early expectations.

The question will be whether or not the Wizards overpaid or gave too long of a deal to Webster, 26, who had two back surgeries before coming to Washington and is trying to recover from an abdominal strain that ended his season early.

The Wizards have now used their two exceptions under the salary cap.

Webster was signed for the maximum mid-level exception, and Monday the Wizards used their bi-annual exception to sign Eric Maynor for 2-years, $4 million. 

The Wizards showed their hand early with their desire to retain Webster on April 18 when Leonsis told CSN that keeping him is "a key thing for us" going forward.

Webster's positive locker-room presence is a big reason for the deal. He even said starting wasn't important when he made his decision on whether or not to come back. 

Webster even deferred to then-19-year old Beal who had the hot hand during the fourth quarter of a game -- telling Wittman the play shouldn't be drawn up for him but for the rookie -- which blew away teammates. 

That prompted Beal to say then: "Martell is terrific. He’s a leader. He’s just vocal, he always plays hard. When he did that, I was thanking him. That shows his IQ for the game. He saw that I made a few shots … That’s just how he is.”

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