MINNEAPOLIS — On Friday afternoon, the Minnesota Timberwolves waived small forward Martell Webster and traded veteran center Brad Miller to New Orleans.
Webster would have been owed $5.7 million next season, but only $600,000 of that sum is guaranteed. Miller, who announced his intention to retire at the end of last season but has not formally done so, is owed $5.1 million next season, with only $848,000 guaranteed.
Miller, 36, will likely still retire; the team had extended the decision on his buyout in hopes of packaging him in a deal like this one to clear salary cap space. By trading Miller, the $848,000 in guaranteed money will no longer count toward the Timberwolves’ salary cap, as it would have had they simply released him. Included with Miller in the trade to New Orleans are two future second-round draft picks: Brooklyn’s in 2013 and Minnesota’s in 2016. The Timberwolves will receive a future conditional second-round pick.
After Friday’s roster moves, the Timberwolves cleared an additional $10.2 million in salary cap space, in addition to the $5.2 million they cleared Thursday when they waived center Darko Milicic.
The team is hoping to create space in order to acquire Nicolas Batum, a restricted free-agent small forward who played his first four seasons with Portland. Minnesota has been negotiating with the Trail Blazers for days, and it had hoped to work out a sign-and-trade deal or sign Batum to an offer sheet by Thursday night. However, that self-imposed deadline passed without a conclusion.
The Timberwolves’ best hope of acquiring Batum is through a sign-and-trade because the Trail Blazers have made it known that they’ll match any offer sheet Batum signs, thus claiming him.
In two years in Minnesota, Webster started 27 of the 93 games in which he played, averaging 8.4 points and 3.4 rebounds. Despite starting 26 games in 2011-12, his numbers dipped, and he averaged just 6.9 points. He also battled back problems throughout his time in Minnesota.
“We want to thank Martell for his two years with us,” Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn said in a release. “Unfortunately, Martell’s back condition caused him to miss significant time both seasons and prevented him from playing at a consistently high level. I have spoken to Martell on numerous occasions and watched him work out last month. We are both optimistic he will have a terrific season next year.”
Webster has been in the league since 2005-06. He was the sixth overall pick in the 2005 draft out of Seattle Preparatory School and played the first five seasons of his career with the Trail Blazers.
Miller, in his one season with the Timberwolves, had more of an impact in the locker room than on the court. Reunited with coach Rick Adelman, the two-time All-Star played in just 15 games, averaging 2.3 points.