Wolves introduce Webster, team to try and set up visits for free agents and more
From the Timberwolves site: Video of yesterday's press conference introducing Martell Webster
On Thursday night, the trade was a bit unexpected but a pleasant surprise for the Washington native. Webster was working out in Seattle when he received a text message from his agent that said he might be part of a trade to the Wolves. Moments later, the 16th pick was off the board and Webster was on his way to the Midwest.
"And I was like wow, it happened that quick," Webster said.
The 6-7 swingman now has a sparkling opportunity to shine, "And now just to know, it's time to wipe the slate clean, kind of start over here in Minnesota. I'm definitely excited about that."
In five years with the Blazers, Webster never averaged more than 28 minutes per game.
"Not a fresh start, just a chance, to tell you the truth," Webster said about his new team. "Not to say I didn't have one in Portland, but now I get more of one. The opportunity is a little bit bigger. For me, personally, something bigger means a lot more."
The Timberwolves are banking on him being ready for the role. Webster will compete with Corey Brewer for the starting shooting guard spot, with president David Kahn and coach Kurt Rambis betting that the 23-year-old will show that he can do more than be a spot-up 3-point shooter and above-average defender.
"The statistics are that when he plays a significant amount of time, 30-plus minutes, his shot-making goes up, his scoring goes up," Kahn said. "He probably relaxes a little bit when he's playing steady minutes. And he's 23, which is hard to believe since he's been in the league for such a long time."
Coach Kurt Rambis has been scouting Webster for years, since Rambis was an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers. Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn said Webster's experience and ability to run the floor made him an attractive investment.
"I think Martell has a lot of room to grow," Kahn said. "We've been eyeing Martell for some time from afar. I thought he was somebody who had the potential to fit in well with the style of play we're developing here."
The Timberwolves introduced newcomer Martell Webster on Monday at Target Center and presented him with the same No. 23 jersey number he wore in Portland, even though it's unlikely he'll wear hero Michael Jordan's number.
He wanted to wear No. 9 for the Wolves, but then he learned something he didn't know.
"Ricky Rubio wears No. 9," Webster said. "Ricky Rubio can have it."
The Spanish guard won't play in Minnesota until 2011 or 2012 at the earliest, if ever.
It was hardly a blockbuster trade that brought him to Minnesota, but he does offer an ingredient the Wolves have been hard pressed to find -- a pure shooter who wants to play defense.
"You can shoot your way in. There's a lot of guys in this league that can't really play defense but they can score and they're starters and dominate in this league, but to have an all-around game, that's what I'm chasing," said Webster.
The Timberwolves will target Memphis restricted free agent Rudy Gay when the NBA's free agency period begins Wednesday night, according to a league source.
Wolves boss David Kahn on Monday said he will call at 11 p.m. Wednesday two agents he wouldn't identify and seek to arrange for their clients to visit Target Center and meet with team personnel, including owner Glen Taylor.
"We won't be one of these teams that shows up on somebody's door step," Kahn said. "We'll invite one, maybe even two people to come visit us. I very much want people to come here and see the upgraded facilities, to meet Glen, to have a feel for the entire organization. There are a lot of quality people who work here and are connected to this organization.
"The more they can meet these people during this process, I think the better and also get a sense for the downtown, the Twins stadium. There's a lot of activity and excitement downtown. I think that's a benefit for us. One of the things we're selling is stability. We can do a better job of selling that here as opposed to be in some third-party city."
Kahn also will contact Darko Milicic's agent shortly after the free agency period begins and will pursue signing European prospect Nikola Pekovic as well.
The 2010 market is brimming with opportunity, peril and contractual land mines. Six teams — the Knicks, the Nets, the Bulls, the Miami Heat, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Minnesota Timberwolves — have cleared enough salary-cap room to sign at least one max player. Competition will be fierce.
According to his agent, Boris Tanjevic, Nemanja Bjelica won't play in Europe next season, despite the rumors about his possible signing by Benetton Treviso. The Serbian 22-year-old forward from Red Star was drafted with the 35th overall pick by the Washington Wizards, and then traded to the Minnesota Tibmerwolves, where Bjelica expects to play next season.
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Although 185 pounds is the bench-press combine test for NBA players, for NFL players it's consecutive reps at 225 pounds.