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Should The Celtics Have Signed Kenyon Martin?

 

Hindsight is naturally 20/20, but with the New York Knicks arriving in town on a four-game winning streak, featuring the services of Kenyon Martin, the question came up casually during yesterday’s press conference with Doc Rivers:

Why didn’t the Celtics sign the aging but proven power forward when they had the chance last month?

Before we dig into the idea, let’s first hear Doc’s side of things:

“I don’t know [why we didn't sign Martin.] We looked at other guys. We were still looking at guards at the time. We were in no hurry at the time for a big. We were looking more for a big of size, if you know what I mean. By the time we got around to it, he was gone.”

Doc also had plenty of positive things to say about Kenyon’s play this season:

“I think Kenyon’s been great. I think he’s been fantastic. I’m happy for Kenyon, although I’m not happy he went to the Knicks. He was out there, we looked at him. A lot of guys looked at him. I don’t care where he ended up, I just wanted him to do well. Guys like that, you want them to do well. I don’t know him well, but we have always had a very good relationship.”

Kenyon’s numbers back up Doc’s strong words about his performance thus far.

The former number one overall pick has played 11 games for the Knickerboxers. He’s averaging 23.6 minutes per game and has posted some stellar numbers during that court time.

8.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 62.7% FG, 1.1 steals, and 0.9 blocks per game during those 11 contests. It hasn’t been all good (just 40 percent shooting from the free throw line) and it’s a very limited sample size. However, for a guy that was willing to accept a 10-day contract for the chance to play, these are some pretty impressive stats, far surpassing the kind of figures he put together last year in his stint with the Clippers.

So did the Celtics make a mistake in not signing Martin?

In all honestly, it’s too soon to tell. That’s largely because the players the Celtics signed in lieu of Martin (D.J. White and Shavlik Randolph) haven’t been given ample opportunity (yet) to prove their worth. They’ve been understandably buried at the bottom of the bench rotation with a couple of mixed performances against Charlotte added in. When we see more from them, which we surely will with Garnett sidelined for a couple weeks, we’ll be able to make a better assessment.

Still, that doesn’t fully address the question. If given the choice in February, the C’s almost surely would have taken Martin over White or Randolph (one would think) when all were available, although it’s entirely possible the front office had their reservations about Martin despite Doc’s glowing words about him.

Either way, the C’s held two open roster spots before the trade deadline, that went unfilled for weeks as the team kept their flexibility open for any big trades. They didn’t want to be hamstrung by a 10-day deal on the books if they needed space for more bodies in a trade to take back. Worrying about the 74 million dollar hard cap may have been a concern as well to hold off on signing guys for a couple weeks, since the C’s were dangerously close to that this year, knowing they needed to sign free agents to replace injured players.

All things being equal, Ainge likely wanted the dust to settle at the trade deadline before making a play for Martin. As the injuries piled up for the Knicks in February however, they suddenly became a more desirable opportunity for playing time than Boston would have been. Choosing to wait it out for Kenyon cost Ainge the possibility of being a desirable destination for the C’s compared to their rivals. New York dealt away Ronnie Brewer and signed Martin at the trade deadline. White and Randolph signed with Boston a couple days later.

Ultimately, all of this shouldn’t matter too much. Martin, like Randolph and White, are flawed players. There’s a reason they were all out of the league for most of the year. However, there’s no doubting Martin has given New York a nice boost (particularly on the offensive glass) that Boston certainly could have used these past couple weeks. Whether White and/or Randolph can do the same for Boston in the coming days is the more important question at the moment for C’s fans.

We’ll start to find out tonight.

 

  • asdf

    Absolutely

  • kg215

    Nah he is a complete clown and would have hurt our chemistry. He is putting up some nice numbers but that is while the Knicks have almost no bigs due to injury. Also like you said Brian, there is a reason no team picked him up for a long time (washed up).

  • CG12

    Screw KMart. I'd never want that jerk on my team.

  • elroz

    White is athletic, has blocked shots for the team..and has a nice 13-16 foot jumper. Randolph can get you 10 rebounds in 25-30 minutes most of the nights.

    • Rav

      You may be right, but we can't play both of them at the same time/combine them into one player. Kenyon Martin is someone who has, so far, been scoring (in volume and efficiency), rebounding and defending well as the 3rd big man on an almost-contender. In addition, the fact that he is a true veteran and proven player in the league means he would probably get more minutes under Doc than Randolph and White are currently seeing.

  • KillerGymRat

    I already said it but I'll say it again – we missed out on Martin. Not sure why in comparison to NYC we seem to have a less favorable big situation. At the time all we had was KG and Wilcox. Neither Green or Bass is a true power forward. Bass has no inside game, struggles to rebound consistently, and has he ever blocked a shot? K-Mart could easily take minutes from Wilcox and Bass play either the 4 or 5. His free throw shooting is terrible but not a bad trade off when you see him shooting 62% from the floor and killing it on the boards while getting blocks and steals. He also rarely turns the ball over and is playoff tested.

    I'm a Celtics fan but live in LA so I saw plenty of the Clippers games last year, including 8 live games and game 5 of the Memphis playoff series. Martin played great last year for the Clippers. I can't speak to why they let him go, but their defense has definitely suffered for it. His numbers weren't great because he was brought in just to rebound and defend and as a compliment to his character, he did just that. Only taking shots to keep the defense honest. He got limited minutes because he is the backup to Blake.

    He's a much better fit for NYC's system than the Clippers (do they even have a system?) since NYC is a much more physical team and he's familiar with Melo and JR Smith from Denver so it wouldn't surprise me if he would have chose NYC regardless.

    But I would love to have seen him and KG on the floor at the same time. A line-up I'd love to see would be KG, Martin, Green, Pierce and Bradley against the Heat. KG matches up with UD, Martin takes Bosch, Green on LeBron with Bradley and Pierce swapping on D-Wade and forcing Chalmers into attacking a very clogged lane.

    I can't say two guys who never made an impact in the league regardless of their numbers in the CBA promise to give us anything more. But let's hope I'm wrong about White and Randolph.

    More then the late season signing, I wonder why we didn't grab Martin at the beginning of the season when we could have easily gotten him for the minimum veteran exemption. Darko was a complete waste of a contract and their really is no value in the league anymore for having a 7-footer just for the sake of saying you have one. You just want guys who can get rebounds and play interior D. Darko was a boneheaded move.

  • http://slapdoghoops.blogspot.ca Slap Dog Hoops

    Kenyon Martin is a BUM who is over the hill. Just because he has a couple of good games does not make him a "steal" or a dark horse player in ANY way.

  • Morpheus

    I'm with GymRat. K-Mart over White and Shav any day.

  • big 3 my ass

    this bum will kill you today

  • check12check

    Yes. We should have. Many of us fans here on CH were screaming (well technically typing, but you know what i mean) for the C's to pick him up. There was so clearly nobody else out there who could give you the sort of performance he could. We also have the gift of KG. everyone giving the "KM is a jerk" comments seems to forget or ignore the dynamic personality we have in Kevin. He makes players buy in and stop acting like babies. Also, Doc saying "We were still looking at guards at the time." makes no sense to me. why would have been looking for guards on a team that was overloaded (at the time) with guards but seriously lacking bigs? the C's have made a lot of dumb decisions this year. I almost wonder if they are trying to run themselves into the lottery.

  • Rav

    I didn't expect K-Mart to have the numbers he's having. If we projected out numbers from his previous season, after factoring the expected decline due to age, they wouldn't be too pretty. Nevertheless, he was always going to bring more to the team than Wilcox/White/Randolph. Cannot believe he wasn't signed by the Celtics.

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