The Los Angeles Lakers are a team that has been built for immediate success. Their star power is unheralded, and the depth within their rotation is to a point where championship aspirations have begun to lean more to the side of expectations.
Unfortunately for the purple and gold, those plans may be placed on a temporary hold due to a key injury.
According to Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register, reserve center Jordan Hill has suffered what could be a severe injury. Franchise center Dwight Howard can attest to this, as he received surgery for what appears to have been the same injury (via ESPN.com).
Bad news for Lakers bench. Jordan Hill has herniated disk in his back. Will be re-evaluated in a week.— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) October 9, 2012
If Jordan Hill is to miss a significant amount of time, which an injury of this severity suggests he might, the Lakers must begin to prepare a contingency plan. Earl Clark is athletic but underwhelming as an interior defender, while rookie Robert Sacre is as unproven as they come.
For that reason, it is time to start thinking about acquiring a veteran in free agency. Can anyone say "Kenyon Martin"?
Once one of the Los Angeles Lakers' greatest rivals, Martin now appears to be the cure-all to their current predicament. The 2000 NBA Draft's first overall selection is a postseason veteran and spent the previous season as a member of another Los Angeles franchise, the Clippers.
His familiarity with the city would certainly offer impetus for his signing. Discovering his first taste of legitimate postseason success may just be the icing on the cake.
Unfortunately, there is a major hurdle to overcome.
According to Alan Hahn, the New York Knicks' studio analyst, Martin refuses to take the veteran's minimum. This is of extreme importance to the Lakers, as they are financially restricted from offering any more than that $1.7 million.
With a legitimate chance at winning his first career NBA championship, however, the free agent Martin may find himself with a change of heart. Even if he doesn't, this is a route the Lakers must at least explore before writing it off as blasphemous.
Otherwise, they will be forced into makeshift lineups that appeal to virtually no one.
It is not as if Martin is a postseason failure, as he is not. Martin was a key player during the 2003 NBA Finals. He and the New Jersey Nets fell to the San Antonio Spurs that year, which marked his second consecutive Finals loss.
The year before that, K-Mart lost to Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and these very Los Angeles Lakers. He can make it, but he can't take home the title.
That wasn't the only time Martin and the Lakers went to war during the postseason. In total, Martin has played the Lakers in three separate playoff series. Each time, he has lost to Kobe and crew and went home earlier than expected.
In two of those three years, the Lakers ended up winning the NBA championship. If you can't beat them, join them.
Although cliched, it is applicable to K-Mart's career. Martin is 34 years old and entering the latter stage of his time in the NBA. He remains more than capable of producing at a high level and has missed the playoffs just once since 2002.
K-Mart knows what it means to perform when the lights are on, but he also knows how little time he has left to win a title.
Unless the Miami Heat come calling, Kenyon Martin does not have a better on-paper chance to compete for the gold than he would by signing with the Los Angeles Lakers. He'd be joining proven veterans with a championship pedigree, which is something he has never done before.
He'd also join Steve Nash as former rivals of the franchise who are now looking to secure a title as a member of it.
With pride put to rest and necessity acknowledged, both Kenyon Martin and the Los Angeles Lakers would benefit from this move. Both are in a position in which their dreams of winning a title are at risk.
Both Martin and the Lakers are also approaching the end of an era. For K-Mart, it is his career, while the Lakers are running out of time with Kobe Bryant at the helm.
Before it is too late for both parties, this deal must get done.