In one of the NBA’s most recent – and unnoticed – moves, the Golden State Warriors signed forward Cartier Martin to a 10-day contract; making him the fifth Gatorade call-up from the D-League this season. Cartier, who had spent some time with the Charlotte Bobcats last season, was averaging just over 14 points and four boards a game for the Iowa Energy. Not only does Martin bring some much-needed relief to the injury-ridden Warriors, he has a chance to catch on for the remainder of the season.
The Warriors currently have 16 players on their roster – as they were granted an additional roster spot via the NBA’s hardship rules – so initial judgments would lean toward Martin not having a spot when his 10-day stint is up. But Martin is raw and a great value pick-up for the Warriors at this point in the season. As I have alluded to in other ramblings about Corey Maggette and the Bay Side Bruisers (I know you love it), things in Oakland aren’t the best right now.
The Warriors are lacking chemistry, structure and, for the most part, passing skills. With Brandan Wright, Kelenna Azubuike and now Anthony Randolph out for extended time with injuries, Golden State is hurting for big bodies. In Martin, they are getting a quick 6-7 forward with a developed outside shot and a Maggette-esque body frame. I was in Oakland this past weekend and was able to sit in on the Warriors practice and gear up for their eventual 117-114 loss to LeBron James’ Cavs on Monday night. As Vlad Radmanovic chucked up a barrage of air ball Hail Mary’s like his job depended on it in the near court, in the back, there was a new face lighting up fellow Warriors during one-on-one drills. Turnaround jumper on Anthony Morrow, face-up crossover to a spin and left-handed finish on the rook Steph Curry, elbow jumper nothing but net – the guy in the blank practice jersey was hustling for his job.
It wasn’t until I got up closer and engaged the local media beat writers, that I found out it was Martin. For only being listed at 6-7, 220, he is able to muscle his way into the paint at will. Still, his main strength lies in his shooting touch. The Warriors also had Martin playing in their system during this past summer league – making the jump to their playbook that much easier. Another reason to be hopeful if you’re Martin, the team genuinely likes you and wants you to make the decision difficult for them.
“He’s a good player. He does a little bit of everything, so I think he’ll do well in our system,” says Don Nelson. “We just have to reflect back [to the Las Vegas summer league] and he’ll pick it up real quick. But that’s not the reason we picked him up, we picked him up because we feel he’s the best player for us…He’ll be a backup three as far as I know.”
With the rash of injuries and a lack of interior size, Maggette will have to step up and play out of his natural position. Martin can come in to relieve Corey of minutes at the small forward position and when Randolph comes back from his injury, Martin can swing out amongst the two and three spots.
“Well I mean, I watched him the whole summer league and actually I thought he was going to be here earlier in the year to be on this team,” says Maggette. “He’s a good player, he can score a variety of ways. He’s a good shooter so he’s going to add a lot of depth to this team that we really need. He’d pry be in a position where he can play the two, three or the four to as well and plus to he can shoot the ball, so it kind of stretches the defense away from the paint.
“Today is his second practice coming in and he’s really comfortable with the players. That’s a good thing when you’re comfortable and you’ve been with a team, you pretty much can fit in and just go out there and play.”
For the Warriors, Martin was the best available player on the board. He is a tough cat and understands his role. Fighting first game jitters I’m sure against the Cavs, Martin was only able to put up a mild five points and two rebounds. With those nerves hopefully gone out the window, Martin looks to bounce back against Miami on Wednesday. The Warriors are hoping he can prove to be a reliable defender and a scoring compliment to both Curry and Monta Ellis. Still, it’s not like Golden State has much choice in the matter. When asked if the 6-10 Radmanovic was ready to step up and play starter’s minutes, Nelson let out one of the funniest and sarcastic low laughs I’ve ever heard.
“He’s [Vlad] the only four I got, it doesn’t matter how he plays. He’s going to have to play more anyway.”
Martin, you’re chance has never been more open.
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