Cartier Martin, Lester Hudson, Hamady Ndiaye can breathe easier as 'cut day' nears for Wizards

Lester Hudson is among the Wizards' breathing easier as the opening day roster is set.
Lester Hudson is among the Wizards' breathing easier as the opening day roster is set. (Jonathan Newton/the Washington Post)
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By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 24, 2010; 11:38 PM

Cartier Martin grabbed a seat near Lester Hudson in the locker room at Toledo's Huntington Center after the Washington Wizards concluded their preseason with a loss to the Detroit Pistons. The topic of conversation was the same one they'd addressed several times this month, in hotels, on the team bus or the team plane: whether they would survive.

"We just weren't sure," Martin said. "We didn't know which way they want to go."

Their uneasiness after the loss was understandable, with Hudson missing all five of his shots and committing two turnovers and Martin playing just 28 seconds. For two players on non-guaranteed contracts, those weren't the final impressions they wanted to leave with the Wizards.

"You're nervous," Hudson said. "We kind of joked about it. 'Cut day coming up.' "

Coach Flip Saunders gave the team the next day off, but there was still plenty of anxiety for both players - and rookie Hamady Ndiaye - until they arrived at practice on Thursday and received word that the Wizards had cut Adam Morrison and Sean Marks. And now Martin, Hudson and Ndiaye can rest a little easier because their names will be on the Wizards' 15-day opening day roster that will be submitted to the league office by 5 p.m. on Monday.

"I've been working really hard for this opportunity," Ndiaye said after practice on Sunday. "It's not the end of the road, it's just kind of like the beginning of it. The hard work starts now, because now we're getting to the real stuff, the reason season. It's not, 'Yes, we made it, I'm on the team.' It's 'What's the next step? What do I want to accomplish? What am I learning?' And that's what I'm looking forward to."

Ndiaye, the 56th pick of last June's draft, took a definite risk coming to the training camp; a decision he made only after failing to get the opportunities that he had hoped for overseas. Had the Wizards cut him, they would have lost his rights altogether and Ndiaye would have had to seek employment elsewhere, something Martin and Hudson have both had to encounter during their careers.

"It was yes, a stressful time, and really mentally, physically, I give it everything I can, to stay on the team and stay with these guys," Ndiaye said.

Martin was undrafted out of Kansas State in 2007, and had to play in Turkey, Italy and NBA Development League while trying to latch on to an NBA team. He had an advantage of ending the regular season with the Wizards, participating in summer league, and getting familiar with Saunders's system. But he has never been able to get settled in Washington, since it has basically become another city for him to rest his head on a hotel pillow.

"You [are] living from bag to bag, you never get to unpack your suitcase. You're always kind of concerned about where your next move is," Martin said, when asked to explain life on a make-good contract. "But it's all in the love of the game, putting in that work."

Martin, who averaged 4.6 points and shot 56.3 percent from the floor in five preseason games, said the fight became more serious after he welcomed his first child, Cartier Jr., last month. "That was a lot of motivation for me, someone that looks up to you and has to depend on you," he said.

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