The Washington Wizards are looking to keep Cartier Martin after he played well near the end of last season following a stint in China. They have reached out to Martin's representatives and there's a "good chance" he'll return, reports CSN Washington's Ben Standig.
His return isn't quite imminent, though, and other teams, such as the San Antonio Spurs and Orlando Magic, have also reached out to Martin. Standig also notes that Martin likely will not receive quite as much playing time as he did last year. Nevertheless, it looks like there's a good chance Martin will be back on the squad next year.
With that out of the way, let me try to clear up Martin's official free-agent status according to the CBA. Warning: very nerdy stuff below.
I just took a look through the CBA, and my understanding is that the Wizards have Full Bird rights on Martin. While Martin has not played three consecutive years with the Wizards as the rule normally requires, he still gets Full Bird rights because he hasn't played for any other NBA team in the three years and because the Wizards signed him for the rest of the season with his last deal.
Here's the relevant section from Larry Coon's CBA FAQ:
The player must complete his contract immediately prior to becoming a free agent, which essentially means he can't have been waived. If he signs a series of contracts, then this only applies to the last contract. If a team signs a player and waives him after one game, signs and waives him after one game again the next year, and in the third year signs him and keeps him the entire season (assuming he didn't sign elsewhere during those three seasons), then they will have full Bird rights following the third season.
Martin signed one 10-day contract in 2010 and was then signed for the rest of the season. The Wizards picked up his qualifying offer, then signed him to a one-year deal for the 2010-11 season. They then waived him in April and no NBA team picked him up. Martin headed to China for a year, returned on two 10-day contracts at the end of the 2011-12 season, then signed a pro-rated veteran's minimum contract in April for the rest of the season. He hasn't been waived since that last contract, so it would seem he falls under the exception to the general Full Bird rights rule.
The really simple version: the Wizards can exceed the salary cap to keep Martin, can sign him for any amount up to the maximum salary, can give him a five-year deal with 7.5-percent raises and don't need to use any of their other exceptions (mid-level, bi-annual exception, etc.) to keep him aboard.
(Thanks to Kyle Weidie for helping me figure out the language here).