Wizards focus on Martell Webster as free agency starts


No, Jason. Your jumper is not better than mine. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

Martell Webster is already in town, so the Wizards would like to get a deal done before the unrestricted free agent small forward leaves. Despite drafting Otto Porter and Glen Rice Jr. and having Trevor Ariza pick up his option for next season, the Wizards have made Webster their No. 1 priority in free agency.

The Wizards are currently in negotiations with his representatives, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. Webster arrived Sunday to meet with team trainers for a checkup after having sports hernia surgery in late May. He has already expressed a desire to remain in Washington and has received the support of both John Wall and Bradley Beal.

Wizards team President Ernie Grunfeld said after the draft that recent roster moves would have no effect on the team’s plans to retain Webster. If the two sides are able to reach an agreement, Webster wouldn’t be able to sign a deal until July 10, when the NBA’s moratorium on free agency signings comes to an end.

“There is a deal to be made. There is not a big suspense, holding your breath,” one source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions. “This is where he wants to be.”

With $61.7 million guaranteed to 10 players next season, the Wizards don’t have much money to spend, but they can sign players with the mid-level exception ($5.15 million), the bi-annual exception ($2 million) and minimum-salary contracts. They aren’t expected to make any major moves with the core of the team already intact.

The free agent recruiting period began at 12:01 a.m. Monday and the Wizards have already made calls to potential targets. After Webster, the Wizards would look to add a backup point guard for John Wall. Multiple league sources have confirmed that the team has interest in Beno Udrih, Eric Maynor, Darren Collison and John Lucas III. They have already contacted the representatives for Maynor, Collison and Lucas, according to sources.

Collison became an unrestricted free agent when the Dallas Mavericks declined to extend him a qualifying offer. His career has sputtered since a promising rookie season in New Orleans, filling in for Chris Paul. He spent two seasons in Indiana before losing his starting job to George Hill, then lost his starting job last season in Dallas to former Wizard Mike James after averaging 12 points and 5.1 assists.

The Golden State Warriors are reportedly interested in signing Collison with their mini-mid-level (which starts at $3.18 million) if Maryland native Jarrett Jack leaves in free agency. One league source said he is “likely” out of the Wizards’ price range, but the team is doing its due diligence.

The Wizards have also made contact with Garrett Temple and still consider A.J. Price a viable option to back up Wall next season.

Wall has lobbied for the team to acquire a pick-and-pop power forward to spread the floor on offense and an interesting name has emerged as a possibility: former Wizard Antawn Jamison. Jamison is a free agent after a disappointing season with the Los Angeles Lakers and a source close to the 37-year-old forward said that Jamison would be open to a return.

Jamison played with the Wizards from 2004-10 and was traded to Cleveland when the team began its rebuilding efforts. The interest in bringing back Jamison is mutual, according to a league source, but the team isn’t in a rush to make a deal with other position needs taking precedence.

Wall is eligible for a maximum contract extension but the team has until October to get a deal done. Wall and Webster are both represented by Dan Fegan, who is currently seeking out a home for all-star center Dwight Howard, the biggest free agent available this summer.

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.
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Michael Lee | June 30, 2013