The Washington Wizards added some depth at small forward and shooting guard by signing seven-year veteran Martell Webster on Wednesday. The 6-foot-7 swingman signed a one-year deal that is reportedly worth $1.6 million.
The No. 6 pick in the 2005 draft by the Portland Trail Blazers, Webster came into the league from high school and spent the first five seasons of his career with Portland. The Blazers traded Webster to the Minnesota Timberwolves two seasons ago, and they bought out his contract in July.
“Adding him to the roster provides us with another solid veteran presence and gives us flexibility with our lineups at both the shooting guard and small forward positions.”
Webster’s presence will add some versatility, but injuries have hampered his play recently, particularly the past two years. During the 2008-09 season, Webster played just one game due to a foot injury. He played in all 82 games the following season, his last for Portland, but was plagued by back problems during his time in Minnesota, missing 55 games the last two years.
Webster says his back problems are a thing of the past.
“I feel fantastic,” Webster said in a conference call. “This is the best my body has felt in the last five years. I really feel like I have a wonderful opportunity to go out and showcase what I can do, now that I’m comfortable with my body and with my health.”
Webster has a career average of 8.4 points and 3.1 rebounds. Last season, he averaged 6.9 points and 3.6 rebounds in 47 games. Webster joins Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker, Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton and Cartier Martin in a Wizards front court which now has a few more options after parting ways with the underperforming Andray Blatche and the oft-injured Rashard Lewis.
Webster is a solid defender and 3-point shooter — areas where the Wizards could use some improvement. Webster declined to call himself a 3-point specialist, but shoots 37.4 percent from beyond the arc. The Wizards were 28th in the league last year from 3-point range.
He already has some familiarity with several of his new teammates, including Nene, Ariza, Emeka Okafor and John Wall, who he once played with in a charity game.
“John Wall is an amazing talent,” Webster said. “What he can do, his eyes, his vision on the court. … I’m excited to play with him.”
Webster is also familiar with being a part of a rebuilding team which is struggling to make it to the playoffs. He’s made it to the postseason just once in his career, his final season with the Trailblazers, and says his experiences will serve him well in Washington.
“The main thing I’ve learned is to continue to encourage guys and let them know that as long as you keep putting the work in and control the things that you can control, it’s going to work out better for the team,” Webster said. “After seven years, I know what to expect of myself and of other players.”
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