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Martell Webster still searching for rhythm after injury

Over the All-Star break we're ranking the trade values of all 14 Wizards from bottom to top. This post takes a look at #14 on the list, Martell Webster.

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Following Washington's 2012-13' season Martell Webster's future was about as bright as it could ever be. In a contract year, Webster had posted career highs points per game, rebounds per game and free throw percentage. More importantly, he shot 42 percent from behind the arc which allowed him to usurp Trevor Ariza as the starting small forward for Washington.

That summer, he was rewarded with a fat $22 million contract that would keep him with the Wizards for another 4 years. Some considered this a slight overpay, especially since Trevor Ariza was still around and the Wizards had just drafted Otto Porter five days earlier. However, no one could argue that Martell brought a lot of value as a shooter for the Wizards.

Flash forward to almost exactly a year later. On June 27th, 2014 Martell Webster had the third back surgery of his career to repair a herniated disk. When Trevor Ariza split for Houston, Webster's injury could have spelled disaster for the Wiz. Luckily, Washington shocked everyone and signed Paul Pierce within hours of Ariza's departure.

During Webster's recovery over the following months, Otto Porter and Rasual Butler benefited the most from the extra playing time. We all know Rasual Butler took his opportunity and ran with it, leading to one of the hottest starts to the season you're ever likely to see from an unheralded 13th year veteran. Otto Porter still received big minutes and managed to develop despite not being the first option off of the bench for most of the season. Suddenly, the Wizards were very deep at the small forward position.

Martell wouldn't make his return until a full six months after his initial surgery. He made his debut against the Dallas Mavericks on December 30th to little fanfare. He has been given a handful of opportunities to earn his minutes back, but has failed to find his rhythm. Since his return, his shooting has dropped off a cliff. It's a small sample size (20 attempts), but Webster has only shot 25 percent from 3 this season. His shot chart from beyond the arc looks like this:

Webster will have a tough time wrestling away playing time from Pierce, Butler, and Porter. Even though Butler has cooled down significantly and Porter isn't a knock down 3-point shooter, they both bring other elements to the game that Webster can't currently contend with. The only way he gets out of bench-warming hell is to start nailing threes. Unfortunately, since his playing time has been reduced, he's getting less chances to build his value back up. It's hard to get in the right rhythm to make threes when you only get sporadic playing time.

For Washington, all of this equates to Webster's trade value being essentially nil. Webster is in his 10th season and is still on the hook for another two seasons at 5.5 million each. Not many teams would be willing to pick that up unless there is a serious uptick in his production. Webster has also made it clear that he will probably retire after his contract expires. I can't blame him, three back surgeries would make me retire from just about everything. However, most teams don't want a 11 million dollar player who will definitely not come back. If Webster gets moved, he will be a part of a larger deal.

Positive Spin:

Webster is still great insurance in case of injuries to Porter, Pierce, or Butler. Many teams would love to have that kind of depth. I can't imagine there are more talented fourth-string small forwards in the NBA right now (prove me wrong in the comments please).

That said, he seems to be a great chemistry guy and an overall fantastic human being. If Martell Webster has the worst contract on the books, you're in a pretty good situation. It's not the worst thing in the world to have him hanging out for the next two years.