The halfway point of the 2012-13 NBA season is approaching and yet Kenyon Martin remains unsigned. Around this time last year, Martin was coming back from a short stint in China after signing with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers during the lockout. When Martin returned, he visited with several teams and weighed a number of offers, and ultimately decided to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Now, there aren’t any offers for the 35-year-old Martin to consider. Over the offseason, several teams expressed interest in Martin including the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs
. However, none of the teams offered a contract so Martin is still at home.
At first, sources blamed Martin’s unwillingness to sign for the veteran’s minimum as the reason why he wasn’t signed, but even since Martin has backed off of that stance he hasn’t been picked up. Some reports have even indicated that Martin would even be willing to sign a 10-day contract in an effort to prove that he can still bring something to the table for an NBA team.
If that is the case, it shouldn’t be long before someone takes a chance on Martin, particularly teams that are looking to improve their defense or rebounding. Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl, who coached Martin for seven years, recently described the power forward as “a bright player and one of the more dominating defenders I’ve ever coached.”
The New York Knicks have been linked to Martin most recently. They could certainly use a reserve big man since Rasheed Wallace has been sidelined with a stress reaction in his left foot and Amar’e Stoudemire’s minutes must be limited after he experienced soreness in his surgically repaired left knee. New York’s frontcourt is depleted and they’re relying heavily on Marcus Camby, 38, and Kurt Thomas, 40. Signing Martin on a 10-day contract would be a bargain and he would give the Knicks another solid interior defender and rebounder. Martin also has chemistry with several Knicks players, having played with Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Marcus Camby and Jason Kidd earlier in his career.
The Los Angeles Lakers are another team that may consider signing Martin. With Dwight Howard out indefinitely with a torn labrum, Pau Gasol out indefinitely with a concussion and Jordan Hill sidelined with a hip injury, the Lakers are down to Antawn Jamison and Robert Sacre in their frontcourt. They also have an open roster spot after recently waiving Darius Johnson-Odom. Los Angeles’ defense has been an issue all season and Martin may be able to help.
One of the main reasons that Martin is still a free agent is because he’s perceived as someone who is uncoachable and has a negative impact on a locker room. However, if you talk to the majority of players who have played with Martin, they’ll say that this is the furthest thing from the truth.
Last season, there were times when Martin grew frustrated with Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro and butted heads with him, but Martin wasn’t the only veteran on the team second-guessing the coach’s sometimes questionable decisions. Martin is an intense competitor and most his frustration came when he felt Del Negro was holding the team back, such as when he called an unnecessary timeout in the Clippers’ first-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies and T.V. cameras picked up Martin yelling an expletive.
With that said, Martin didn’t have a problem with coming off of the bench for the Clippers and he was extremely productive in his limited minutes. He averaged 5.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, one block and one steal in 22.4 minutes. Martin was excellent for the Clippers on the defensive end and helped them win their first-round playoff series. The postseason is nothing new for Martin; he has been to the playoffs in 10 of his 12 seasons in the league and has played in a total of 100 postseason games.
At the end of the day, Martin is still someone who is capable of contributing on an NBA team and, if anything, he’ll be on his best behavior after being without a job and humbled for the first half of this season. He’s worth taking a chance on and it’s likely only a matter of time until he signs a contract.