It’s been an incredible year already for Corey Webster. Another title with the NZ Breakers, his first European stint, an NBA Mini-Camp invite from the Indiana Pacers and then a stellar showing for the Tall Blacks in the FIBA Oceania Championships.
But as good as those things are, Corey Webster’s year … and life … just got a whole lot better.
The talented shooting guard who spent the past week in New Orleans trying out with the Pelicans, has been asked to stay a little while longer.
The Pelicans announced today that they’ve signed Webster to a multi-year deal.
“I am not there yet but this is another positive step towards my dream of playing in the NBA. The past week has gone well and the coaches have been impressed enough by the workouts to want me to stay for the training camp on a non-guaranteed contract,” Webster said.
While exact terms of the deal are not known at this stage, it’s believed to be a pretty standard non-guaranteed training camp deal, with guarantees at certain periods in the future, should he stick with the team.
It’s a similar deal to what Brock Motum had last year with Utah and Joe Ingles had with the Clippers.
Still, for Webster this is the moment when his career changes forever. He is now an undisputed NBA-calibre player. Dell Demps and Alvin Gentry made it so.
Webster’s fit on the Pelicans is a great one, even after they signed Sean Kilpatrick to a similar deal last week. They still lack depth at the two-guard position and Webster’s ability to handle the ball and create in pick and roll situations as a combo guard is something that should separate him from Kilpatrick and Bryce Dejean-Jones; both more traditional shooting guards.
With Norris Cole still unsigned, the Pelicans also have no back-up to Jrue Holiday at the point guard spot. Tyreke Evans will likely spend some time there again, but Holiday’s minutes will likely be limited to start the season as he works back from his leg injury.
Webster is not a point guard, but at 6’2” – undersized as a two in the NBA – playing that combo reserve role as Patty Mills has learned to do so well, is Webster’s best chance at succeeding in the league.
“It is again up to me now to prove my value to the organization, to put my head down and give it my best shot at training camp. I came here this week with a three day window to impress, this has bought me more time and a chance to take the jump into the actual NBA roster,” said Webster.
Webster has been practising with a number of the Pelicans’ core roster this week and the experience has been great, but it’s only the start of his journey.
“It is always a significant achievement when a player can break into the NBA, especially when doing so from outside the traditional pathway of the College system and the draft,” said David Wolf of Webster’s local management (Full Circle Sports Management). “But Corey is showing that he more than belongs at that level.”
“Together with our NBA partner Bell Management International we are delighted to have identified and managed this opportunity for Corey, and the Breakers’ support has been extremely important through the process in recent weeks. It has been great for Corey as he chases his dream and is a huge credit to the club and its culture,” said Wolf, who partners with Shane Heal at Full Circle.
Heal has played an important role in helping bring about this opportunity for Webster, mentoring the young guard after previously coaching him in the New Zealand NBL.
The Breakers will now look to move forward without him, meaning the likes of Reuben Te Rangi will take on a bigger role.
“It doesn’t change anything for us as a club at the moment however, Dean (Vickerman) will continue the pre-season and look at options within the current roster to cover Corey’s absence,” said Breakers CEO Richard Clarke today. “Any decisions about a long term replacement will be left for a few weeks yet until there is some certainty about his future.”
For Webster, his focus is solely on the task ahead. Training camp opens in a couple of weeks and with that will come pre-season games. Webster will have a chance to test himself against the best players in the world on a nightly basis and showcase to Gentry and Demps why he belongs on the Pelicans roster.
There is no doubt that Webster is talented enough. Little doubt that he’s ready. Now he just needs to throw a few lobs to the Brow, knock down a couple of jumpers off Asik picks and penetrate and pitch to an open Ryan Anderson and he’ll be singing some sweet Nawlins music for the foreseeable future.