5 Teams Kenyon Martin Could Take to the Playoffs
Kenyon Martin still hasn't been signed. His value as a player is indisputable, even as one who has undergone knee surgeries and is now 34 years old.
Martin can't come in and start for a contending team, and shouldn't really start on any team at this point in his career, but the toughness and leadership he could bring off the bench could make the difference for a team that is in need of some beef up front.
In pinpointing possible landing places for Martin, it's not always a strict matter to place him on a contending team as a ring-chaser. Martin has laid no such requirements about playing for a contending team.
"If someone calls me tomorrow, I don't care who it is, whether it's losing or winning at this point," Martin said to Yahoo! Sports.
He questions whether his reputation has hindered his chances of landing on an NBA roster. Pegged as a head case and a guy who causes disruption, Martin feels he has matured as a player and wouldn't be a distraction in any sense of the word for whichever team signs him. The lack of employment has made him question himself, too, saying that he asked himself "Am I that bad of a guy?"
No, not that bad of a guy, and not that bad of a player. Here are five teams that could desperately use Martin in their frontcourt and are making a serious error by refusing his readily available (and cheap) help.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers need some depth at all positions, including the frontcourt. Kenyon Martin may not be an NBA-level starter at this point in his career, but he could come in and play big minutes for a Blazers front line that features All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, J.J. Hickson and Meyers Leonard.
Martin could play a role to the tune of 20 minutes per game in Portland and his veteran leadership would help Leonard significantly. The Blazers are left to bring in guys like Jared Jefferies and Victor Claver right now, and Martin would be a significant upgrade over both.
The Blazers have been a bit of a surprise team so far, at 2-1, with victories over both the L.A. Lakers and Houston Rockets. No one gave them a shot at making the playoffs this year, and perhaps very few still are, but Kenyon Martin's toughness and veteran leadership would give them a much stronger chance at doing so.
The Houston Rockets already gave themselves the makeover of the season by adding James Harden last week, and now at 2-1, it seems that they could consider adding Kenyon Martin to strengthen their frontcourt.
Currently, the Rockets start Patrick Patterson at power forward.
Patterson has been effective so far through the two games he's played in, with 10.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, but the Rockets could use some additional depth at the 4/5-spots, with only Marcus Morris and Greg Smith (now injured) able to serve as backups to Patterson and center Omer Asik.
Morris and Smith are both inexperienced, as is most of the Rockets roster, but if they find themselves winning games and unexpectedly contending for a playoff berth, adding someone of Martin's caliber to back up Asik and Patterson could pay huge dividends.
New York Knicks
New York has jumped out of the gates 3-0 on the strength of a defense that has been significantly better than anyone thought. Kenyon Martin would make it even better.
Currently, the Knicks rely on Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby off the bench to back up Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler at the 4/5-spots. Though Martin is hardly a spring chicken at 34, he's younger and (arguably) more athletic than either Thomas or Camby; and like Camby, he can block some shots and rebound the ball.
Camby has yet to even play this season, and Thomas is averaging just 17.5 minutes through the two games he has appeared in. Martin would come in and play big minutes right away in New York. Outside of Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, the next best rebounder on the Knicks so far has been J.R. Smith.
Martin could grab five or six rebounds a game and make the Knicks that much tougher to beat. The fit seems ideal. Why hasn't it happened yet?
Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors have come out of the gates 2-1 so far, with their lone loss being a 10-point defeat to the Memphis Grizzlies. In that loss to the Grizzlies, the Warriors were out-rebounded 40-36. In both their victories (over the Clippers and Suns), they have out-rebounded their opponents.
Andrew Bogut's injury history almost necessitates the signing of Martin. The Warriors have been pressed into playing rookie Festus Ezeli big minutes, and there's really no good reason why they couldn't be giving that time to an NBA veteran like Martin, who would outproduce Ezeli and be just as cheap at the league veteran minimum contract.
Bogut is expected to return to the starting lineup tonight (November 5) in Sacramento, but how long can the oft-injured center stay healthy before it becomes necessary to sign Martin or someone else to fill the frontcourt with some veteran leadership?
The Timberwolves are off to a 2-1 start, which is two more wins than most would have expected considering their best two players are sidelined for about another month. The victories came over Sacramento (which may not be much of a surprise) and Brooklyn, while a loss to Toronto was sandwiched between the two games on Sunday (November 4).
The Wolves already have a lot of toughness and strength in the frontcourt. Kevin Love is the best power forward in the NBA, Nikola Pekovic is on his way to being a top-10 center and Derrick Williams and Andrei Kirilenko are both great combo forwards who help immensely. Backup center Greg Stiemsma has done all asked of him and more.
But Kenyon Martin might be that missing piece for the Timberwolves.
When Love returns, Derrick Williams will go back to the bench and no longer have to play out of position at the 4-spot, and when Rick Adelman wants to stay with a big lineup, he could choose to go with Martin off the bench to back up Love, rather than the tweener Williams.
Minnesota has some great big bodies up front and it doesn't lack depth at any position, but foul trouble and injuries can decimate a frontcourt quickly, and Martin would bolster it enough that it could withstand a Love injury or a bad night of fouling from Pek.
The Timberwolves would be smart to sign Martin.