The Minnesota Timberwolves, in 2011-12, were catastrophically thin on the wing. In 2012-13? They’re … well, they’re catastrophically thin on the wing again, with Alexey Shved missing 46 of his last 66 shots and Chase Budinger missing most of the season. The team ranks last in three-point shooting – way last at 29.6 percent, as the next-closest team (Phoenix) is at 32.7 percent – and as a result the Wolves will miss the playoffs for the ninth straight season. The team also probably misses Washington Wizards wingman Martell Webster, who played for two frustrating years in Minnesota and returned to the Target Center on Wednesday.
The Wolves won that reunion, snapping a seven-game losing streak as Webster missed six of eight from long range. This came before Webster dropped word that, eh, it would have been nice if the team’s front office (and GM David Kahn) would have been more forthright in their intentions regarding the $5.7 team option they had on his contract for 2012-13. From ESPN 1500’s Dana Wessel:
Webster still thought there was a chance the Wolves would pick up his $5.7 million option. He went to Florida to train and Kahn came down to watch him workout. Kahn told him they were definitely considering keeping him around and that they'd be in touch. But Webster's phone never rang and he found out he was done in Minnesota while watching TV.
"It just would have been more respectful if I would have gotten a phone call (from Kahn) instead of seeing it on the ESPN ticker," Webster said. "That is just me. Maybe that is the way it is done, but I think it would have been a bit more tasteful if I would have gotten a phone call."
Yes, that would have been more tasteful.
Webster isn’t complaining about his overall stay, though. He embraced Wolves owner Glen Taylor before the game and thanked Minnesota for its patience as he worked through two trying years with the team, seasons derailed by a pair of back surgeries. And in Kahn’s defense, he was absolutely correct in turning down that team option, because even in Webster’s fantastic comeback year, $5.7 million might be too much to sign on for. Especially as the Wolves were looking to swing deals with that cap space last summer.
Martell’s emergence is one of the more underreported stories of the NBA season, at least nationally. Thought to be on the outs after an up and down career, he’s blossomed into one of the league’s go-to quotes, while shooting a white hot 44 percent (second in the league) from long range. Even though Webster shot over 41 percent from behind the arc in his first season with the team, few expected this sort of bump in efficiency. Though, again, it still probably wasn’t worth the price of that team option.
(Though, again, call the dude.)
Via Wessel, Wolves coach Rick Adelman was quick to point out that even Webster’s up and down touch from long range from last season would help a Minnesota team starving for separation.
"He is a good player and he having a very good year for them," coach Rick Adelman said. "He is shooting in the (40 percents) from three. He still shot 35 (percent) last year which would be historic for us (this year)."
Webster was one of the last high schoolers to enter the NBA. Touted as a Glen Rice-type, he was praised as he entered his professional career for being wiser than his teenager years, and a thoughtful quote. That has remained, though the ascension to All-Stardom hasn’t happened. Portland could have selected Chris Paul or Deron Williams ahead of Webster in the 2005 NBA draft, and he was left to deal with that burden all through the years that saw Greg Oden and Brandon Roy slip in and out of the team’s active roster. Following two back surgeries, and signed for the league minimum in Washington, Webster’s resiliency is beyond admirable. Guy even sleeps in his car, when he has to.
(And also, come on David Kahn, call the man.)