Contract disputes amongst teams and players this NBA offseason has created turmoil throughout the league, especially with the impending possibility of a lockout. Kenyon Martin seems to be heading down the same path.
K-Mart is the second highest-paid player on the Nuggets — scheduled to make $16.5 million this season — and is entering the final year of the $90 million contract he signed back in 2004. Throughout his career, he’s never shied away from speaking his mind, and now believes that the Nuggets gave new signee Al Harrington his money:
“I have no problem with Al. I love Al. We’ve known each other for 10, 11 years now,” Martin told the Associated Press. “Me and that man play the same position. I just feel they could have extended that offer to me. I feel with what I’ve done and what we’ve accomplished as a team around here got overlooked.”
Harrington agreed to a five-year, $33.4 million deal with the Nuggets this summer. But can you really blame Kenyon for wanting an extension, or for being upset about not being offered one? Injuries aside, Kenyon had his best season as a Nugget last year with 23 double-doubles in 58 regular season games, and went on a two-month stretch with 19 double-doubles in 25 games. He has averaged 12.8 points and seven rebounds per game in the 323 games he’s played with Denver, all the while being the heart and soul of their defense.
K-Mart’s versatility on the defensive end is perfect for a team like Denver. If they had more defenders with his attitude, they would never give up more than 100 points a game. Defenders who body up, talk trash, and physically and mentally wear a player down over the course of a game are hard to come by these days. Last season, Kenyon created 2.8 Defensive Win Shares along with a Defensive Rating of 104 — which puts him in the mix with Kevin Garnett and the Tim Duncan just to name a few — and the Nuggets gave up almost a full 10 points more per game when Kenyon was out of the lineup.
He’s been down before, and many said his career was over. But with averages of 11.5 points and 9.4 rebounds this past season, he’s far from done. This will be his third knee surgery in four years, and at 32 years old, that isn’t exactly enticing to a team looking to rebuild. Every team needs a veteran player, and without Kenyon’s defense, the Nuggets seem to forget how to play it. Let’s just hope that this time around, the third time’s a charm.