Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Updated: January 13, 10:43 AM ET
Martin cleared to practice
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento Kings leading scorer Kevin Martin was cleared Tuesday to return to practice after missing more than two months with an injured left wrist.
Martin was examined by Dr. Robert Szabo, who performed the operation to repair the hairline fracture in Martin's left wrist on Nov. 9. Szabo gave Martin the go-ahead to return to full-contact practice starting Wednesday.
"I'm excited to have him back," coach Paul Westphal said before Tuesday's game against Orlando. "It will be a big hurdle tomorrow when he scrimmages and we see how his timing is and how he feels. We'll know a lot more then."
Westphal said he has no "preconceived brakes" on Martin and that he could return to game action as soon as he is ready to play. Martin will join the Kings on their upcoming six-game road trip beginning Friday night in Philadelphia.
Martin averaged 30.6 points through the first five games before injuring the wrist. He has been the focal point of Sacramento's offense the past few years, averaging at least 20 points per game the last three seasons.
Rookie point guard Tyreke Evans has stepped up in Martin's absence. Evans has been the top rookie in the league so far, averaging 20.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. If he maintains those numbers the rest of the season, Evans will join LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson as the only rookies in NBA history to average as least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game.
The task for Westphal will be incorporating Martin into the offense without taking away from Evans' performance.
"We always envisioned an offense with enough room for both of them and a number of other players too," he said. "I think it will make our whole offense better."
Westphal said he hadn't thought about whether Martin would immediately return to the starting lineup or come off the bench when he is ready to return. He said the focus will be building up Martin's conditioning this week so he's ready to play significant minutes.
"You can't get in basketball shape for the NBA by riding any exercise bike that has ever been invented," Westphal said. "Doing drills is good but that doesn't really duplicate a scrimmage and a scrimmage doesn't duplicate an NBA game. It's all different. He's a well conditioned athlete. He's as ready as he can be for the next step."