One time All-Star Forward, Kenyon Martin, is being linked to the Knicks as a potential free agent signing to replace (temporarily or otherwise) Rasheed Wallace. Wallace has missed 12 consecutive games with a stress reaction in his left foot, and is definitely not returning this week. K-Mart has been a free agent all season after refusing to sign a minimum deal with any teams over the offseason, but now he has changed his tune as he is willing to sign a 10-day contract to prove that he can help a contending team.
Martin has career averages of 13.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.2 spg, 1.2 bpg, and he shoots 48% from the field. He has played for the New Jersey Nets (with Jason Kidd), the Denver Nuggets (with ‘Melo, J.R. Smith, and Marcus Camby), and the Los Angeles Clippers. As his averages allude to, K-Mart is a talented defender and rebounder. Last season he averaged one block and one steal in 22 minutes off the bench.
The Knicks are not a good rebounding team (although they have been improving since Marcus Camby returned). They rank 27th in the league, and average exactly 40 rebounds a game. Martin would help the Knicks in that department, as well as adding increased rim protection. The Knicks are the second worst shot-blocking team in the league, averaging under 4 per game.
While this all sounds great on paper, you have to remember that the deal is reportedly contingent on Rasheed Wallace’s health. Wallace added a punch to this team not only with his defense, but also with his moral support and coaching presence. Will Rasheed, who’s contract is now guaranteed, be released? Will the team release a different front court player? Kurt Thomas or Chris Copeland? One person has to leave in order to make room for Martin. James White? This team has great chemistry, and all the players have contributed in one way or another so far this season.
Another issue about Martin is if he is in good shape. He hasn’t played in months, and who knows if he has kept up conditioning at an NBA level. Martin’s role may also be a little bit unnecessary. He is 35, and plays the forward spot. In other words, he’s and old, big man. If that sounds like Kurt Thomas or Marcus Camby it’s because it is their description as well. If the Knicks were looking into signing a point guard, then that would make more sense as Jason Kidd is playing too many minutes, and the Knicks could use some help with their perimeter defense until Felton returns, although Shumpert may fix some of those problems.
Coach Woodson hasn’t played Camby nor Thomas a lot of minutes, but seemed to be perfectly fine leaving ‘Sheed out on the court for 20 on some nights. Camby is still an elite rebounder and good rim protector at this stage in his career. Kurt Thomas, the oldest player in the league, has played very well in his time this season. Do the Knicks really need to look elsewhere for help in the front court?
If the Knicks know something about Rasheed Wallace that we don’t, or better yet, if they know something we don’t know about Martin, then go ahead and sign him. He won’t hurt the team, but he’s not needed in particular either. It’s a low risk, high reward situation if he proves he can score around the basket, rebound, and defend.