Former Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin is getting some attention from several NBA teams, including the San Antonio Spurs, now that his former Chinese team, Xinjiang, is out of the playoffs.
Martin left the team in December, but the Chinese Basketball Association prohibits players from signing with an NBA team until the season is over, which according to ABCLocal.com, makes Martin a free agent on February 16.
The Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers,Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks are pursuing free-agent forward Kenyon Martin, according to league sources.Martin has spoken with executives from each of the clubs and is hoping to make his decision next week.
Martin’s priority is to join a contender on which he’ll have a sizeable role, according to a person close to Martin. The Clippers and the Knicks can offer the $2.5 million mini-midlevel exception. San Antonio can as well, but it is unlikely to do so because of the luxury tax, sources said.
Martin had a slip in production for the Nuggets last season, averaging 8.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and almost one block per game. Regardless of that drop, Martin is still widely considered a very good interior defender, can defend four positions and has been thrown on everyone from Dirk Nowitzki to Kevin Durant. While he may not be quite the defender he was in New Jersey, he’s also still a very good team defender and very tough in the post, something the Spurs could use.
The Spurs could certainly use some added depth up front and a Duncan-Martin starting frontcourt combo would probably work well with Blair joining Tiago Splitter off the bench. Martin would also be re-united with Richard Jefferson, and while I wouldn’t expect to see them provide the same excitement and athleticism they did in New Jersey, perhaps Jefferson could help in getting Martin to buy into the Spurs system.
It’s probably still a bit early to be thinking of Martin in silver and black, though. The Spurs have some stiff competition for his services, and the Knicks seem like the logical front runners to me, but be sure to check back on Project Spurs as February 16 looms ahead.