Friday, February 3, 2012
Clippers land Kenyon Martin
By Ramona Shelburne
The Los Angeles Clippers have agreed to a deal with free-agent forward Kenyon Martin.
The former Denver forward, who reached a buyout agreement with the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers on Dec. 21 and was cleared by FIBA earlier this week to return to the NBA two weeks ahead of schedule, will make the Clippers' mini-mid-level exception of $2.5 million. It will not be pro-rated as that doesn't apply to exceptions until Feb. 10.
Martin's agent, Andy Miller, confirmed Friday that the sides
The Clippers are confident that FIBA's early clearance of Martin will hold up, according to a team source, despite some the pushback from Chinese basketball officials reported by Yahoo! Sports. However, even if his return is delayed, it would only be until mid-February.
Martin, 34, also considered the Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks.
Martin will come off the bench for the Clippers but provide important depth at power forward behind Blake Griffin. At this point in his career he is seen primarily as a defender, but he is expected to play significant minutes for the Clippers, who were previously relying on Reggie Evans and Solomon Jones to back up Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
That depth is key for a team heading into its toughest stretch of the season -- a six-game road trip at the beginning of February and another six-game trip at the beginning of March. The Clippers, who lead the Pacific Division at 13-7, are scheduled to play 20 games in 30 days in March.
Signing Martin is something of a coup for the Clippers, who rarely have been seen as a destination for veterans looking to sign with a contender. But that's the impact point guards Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups have had on the organization this season.
Billups, who was Martin's teammate in Denver, played a lead role in recruiting him.
Martin met with the Clippers in early January and was told to watch their games and see if he believed he would fit in, according to a team source.
Miami and the Lakers could have offered him only a minimum contract, while Atlanta and San Antonio could have offered more.
Ramona Shelburne is a columnist and writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.