J.R. Smith might be having fun in China dropping 60 points, shooting up threes like he was in a video game and letting his family get into fights in the stands, but Kenyon Martin is ready to come back to the NBA. With his decision coming any day now, Martin has narrowed his search down to five teams: Miami, San Antonio, the Clippers, New York and Atlanta. He wants a prominent role on a contending team, something all five of these organizations could probably provide.
The catch for now though is Martin can’t return until the end of the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers’ season, which is February 16. Any team that signs him this week knows they’ll have to wait a few more weeks to get him acclimated. Still, Martin’s been a starter his entire career, and has averages of 13.5 points and 7.2 rebounds in 654 career NBA games. Someone will give him a shot, and someone will be rewarded with a high-energy, versatile power forward.
He’s narrowed his search down, and now I’ll rank them. Here are the top five places for Kenyon Martin this season.
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5. MIAMI HEAT
The interest is mutual. The Heat have reportedly already offered the former Bearcat a contract (as well as one to Joel Przybilla). But Martin wants a big role and I’m not sure he gets it in Miami. Chris Bosh will get his 35 minutes a night. Joel Anthony isn’t winning any knockout games, but on this team, you need someone who’ll defend through the floor burns, set screens relentlessly and play more unselfishly than Mother Teresa. Off the bench, Udonis Haslem already gives Miami what they’d want out of Martin.
Every veteran who finds room on the open market considers South Beach. You have to. But I doubt he ends up here.
4. NEW YORK KNICKS
I apologize to all of the Jorts fans out there, but the Knicks need some help upfront. They’re only No. 20 in rebound rate (49.4). As long as Amar’e Stoudemire‘s knees aren’t actually as brittle as they say, that starting trio of STAT, ‘Melo and Tyson Chandler is as good as anyone. Still, Martin has never been Rodman on the boards (a career average of 7.2 a night in over 32 minutes), so to expect him to come in and make a huge difference is foolish.
Offensively, he might not mesh either being that he’s basically an older Amar’e with less of a jump shot. But the Knicks are in line for more depth – they HAVE to have it to go further than the first round of the playoffs. Martin is a better option than anything else they have.
The Knicks have the money, and unlike the rest of the teams on this list, they are folding in the face of pressure. What was once thought to be a top four team in the East might not even make the playoffs. I suspect they’ll offer K-Mart the mini mid-level and do everything they can to bring him to the Big Apple.