Breaking Down The Nuggets Free Agents: K-Mart


Part 3 of 14

And to think that we are finally seeing an end to K-Mart’s outrageous $93 million/7-year deal, but seven years later and poor Kenyon Martin will now be associated with one of the worst contracts in Denver Nuggets history.

While overpaid, Martin was undoubtedly the Nuggets leader over the previous three seasons. He anchored the Nuggets defense and his versatility allowed George Karl to switch Martin on some of the most dangerous players in the League (Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul).

However, Martin performance was overshadowed due to injuries. He missed 203 games in seven years and at 33 years old one has to wonder how much the former first round pick has left in the tank.

Martin received some recognition for his defense, but his biggest downfall comes on the offensive side of the ball where he too often tries to go one-on-one instead of working off of his teammates.

Despite his injuries and offensive inefficiencies, the Nuggets will definitely try to keep their veteran leader. But it falls on Martin to accept a major paycut and return for far less money and playing time. He did say he would accept playing off the bench for winning, but the question remains is it in Denver?

He could attract some interest on the free agent market and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him in a New York Knicks jersey next season. He would give the Knicks a top-notch defender to play next to Amar’e Stoudemire and Anthony, both of which he remains good friends with. Another team he’d help is San Antonio in the post, no doubt he wouldn’t have let Zach Randolph bully and embarrass him in the playoffs.

Interesting enough, one player that is frightfully similar to Martin is the Houston Rockets’ Chuck Hayes (who also is a free agent this offseason). Both are tough undersized defenders and aren’t great offensive players (Martin is the better of the two). And their statistics and production this season are very similar:

Martin   8.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, .9 steal, .7 block, .511 FG%, .583 FT%
Hayes    7.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.1 steal, .7 block, .527 FG%, .662 FT%

Hayes is a better post defender than Martin, but Martin is better at  hedging guards on the perimeter not to mention Martin is still more athletic.

Hayes probably isn’t what the Nuggets would be looking for to replace Martin, but here are some other options:

  • Carl Landry, New Orleans (FA) – Landry isn’t a great defender or rebounder, but is very skilled on offense. Like Martin, he is very tough but isn’t an ideal replacement. Bill Ingram of Hoopsworld believes Landry should be a player the Nuggets should look at.
  • Thaddeus Young, Philadelphia (RFA) – At 22, Young is an amazing player. Great work ethic, very mature for his age and has a killer instinct. He wasn’t overly impressive, but he wasn’t intimidated by the Miami Heat in the playoffs. No doubt the 76ers want to keep him, but they are going to have to pay him money.
  • Josh Smith, Atlanta (Trade) – Smith may be the biggest long shot of the list. This is only if the Hawks are forced to decide between Smith and Jamal Crawford and they go for Crawford. While it is a long shot, Smith is a much younger, better offensive and more versatile version of Martin.
  • Anderson Varejao, Cleveland (Trade) – Yes, we are talking about Sideshow Bob and he may be the perfect replacement for Martin. He’s a better rebounder, great defender and is much longer player.
  • Tayshaun Prince, Detroit (FA) – Prince is also past his prime, but at 30 he still has some good years left. Prince is a versatile defender with an impressive wingspan, he also can help on the offensive side of the ball.
  • Jason Maxiell, Detroit (Trade) – If you know anything about Maxiell, he is like K-Mart-lite. A tough, tough competitor, who battles on the defensive side of the ball.