After months of speculation and closely monitoring his situation, the Knicks signed Kenyon Martin. But what’s perhaps more important than that is the fact that they did it the right way.
The Knicks started the season 18-5, but in their last 28 games, have gone only 14-14 and furthermore, do not look much like a team that could advance to the second round of the playoffs.
Thus, no matter how big or how small, a change was undeniably necessary. Perhaps New York needed to be careful not to shake things up all too much, but the squad’s most recent struggles suggested an injection of life was crucial to any forthcoming progress. It was simply up to Glen Grunwald to gauge how big or small that injection of life needed to be.
At least Grunwald recognized that a boost was needed either way. After trading Ronnie Brewer away to the Oklahoma City Thunder in return for a future draft pick (freeing up a roster spot), the Knicks subsequently signed veteran big man Kenyon Martin to a ten day contract.
It could’ve been argued that the Knicks needed some extra insurance at the shooting guard position with Brewer all but irrelevant and Iman Shumpert still on the slow and uphill battle of regaining his rookie season form. Nevertheless, the organization believed a bit more front court depth was a higher priority need.
By taking a chance on Martin, the Knicks will hope to bolster their lineup by inserting that gritty, physical, and vocal big man presence that the team has clearly been lacking as of late. With Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby still sidelined, Martin has the potential to step in and fill a huge void.
But at this stage in the game, Martin represents nothing more than an insurance policy. With Wallace and Camby both still unavailable, such an insurance policy in Martin needs to be put to use.
If and when either or both players return, however, there likely won’t be enough minutes to go around. Should Camby and/or Wallace return to the hardwood by the time Martin’s contract is up, will he still be retained?
Even if Martin plays well through his less than two week stint (and there’s no guarantee that he does), he could find his return to the tri-state area to be a rather short one. The fact is that the Knicks also have other pressing needs (for example, a need for an extra floor general or a wing that effectively spreads the floor). Should the Knicks see one of their already present big men hit the hardwood sooner than later, there may no longer be a similar pressing need for a player like Martin.
But that’s the beauty of a ten day contract. Of course, no organization wants to disrespect a veteran by letting him loose so quickly (especially if he’s playing well). That said, the advantage of not committing to one specific player is having the huge benefit of shuffling a committee of players in and out if necessary, depending on the bigger void as the weeks go on.
It’ll be interesting to see how well Martin does when he hits the hardwood donning those orange and blue colors for the first time. One can only hope his stint is a successful one, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be around for the long haul. Perhaps his fate in New York has more to do with Camby and Wallace, and less to actually do with any of his own potential success.