Cartier Martin should be able to breathe a sigh of relief by now. After bouncing around the NBA on a seemingly endless series of 10-day contracts since the 2009 season, Martin signed a one-year deal with the Wizards in July for the veteran’s minimum.
The 6-foot-7 swingman from Kansas State paid his dues in the NBA Development League with the Iowa Energy in between stints with the Charlotte Bobcats and the Golden State Warriors before landing with Washington in 2010. He also spent time in China during the lockout and believes the time overseas helped him return to the NBA much-improved.
Martin feels he’s finally found an NBA home in Washington but knows that this is when the real work begins.
“I knew I was going to have to bring it from the time that I was signed,” Martin said. “Just because I got signed, I didn’t want to settle for that. I want to put in more work, I want to get better. I want to continue to be a good player in this league and make my teammates better.”
But his time on the court has fluctuated from a season-high 30 minutes and 19 points in the Wizards’ preseason opener against Charlotte to two straight DNP’s against Cleveland and Brooklyn.
“We’re pretty much stacked at every position,” Martin said. “We’re getting after each other, trying to make each other better. Guys are competing hard.”
Coach Randy Wittman is continuing to shift his lineups in practice and game situations. He says he’s not ready to settle on who his starting five will be when the Wizards begin the regular season at Cleveland on Tuesday.
In fact, Wittman sounds as though he’s still weighing his final roster spots. The level of competition in practice at nearly every position hasn’t made things easier — for him or the players.
“Guys are being very professional about how coach is approaching the lineups,” Martin said. “We have guys that can come in and play at every position, so it’s probably tough on him trying to get different guys in there and make adjustments. We just have to be prepared when we’re called on.”
Between the rash of injuries and the increased level of competition, Wittman plans to keep all 19 players on the roster as long as possible. The team has until Monday to pare the roster to 15 players.
“I’ve got to, we’re running out of bodies,” Wittman said. “We’ve got to maintain a chance to still get stuff done practice-wise.”
With two preseason games left, against defending champion Miami on Wednesday and perennial playoff powerhouse San Antonio on Friday, Wittman isn’t taking chances.
He held rookie guard Bradley Beal out of practice Wednesday after Beal rolled his ankle Tuesday, and he’ll be a game-time decision against the Heat.
“We’ve got some difficult decisions to make moving forward,” Wittman said. “If I could have a genie make this two weeks ahead of time right now, it would make me a happy man.”