Clippers: Del Negro, Billups talk about free agent Kenyon Martin
Kenyon Martin to the Clippers?
Chauncey Billups would like to see that happen.
In fact, the Clippers' veteran guard said Saturday that he has reached out to the free-agent forward, a former teammate of his in Denver, about signing with the Clippers.
What are Martin's thoughts about doing so?
"I'll let him tell y'all that," Billups said with a smile.
Asked about reports that the Clippers are one of a handful of teams that have reached out to Martin, Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro declined to go into specifics.
"Kenyon is an experienced guy that knows how to play, can play some [power forward], play some [center]," Del Negro said. "He brings a lot of athleticism to the team. But those are all speculations. There are a lot of teams talking to a lot of different players. I'm pleased with our group right now and we're always looking to add good character, quality, competitive guys to the roster."
Del Negro neither confirmed nor denied that he has reached out to Martin.
The Clippers look like a good fit for the 34-year-old Martin, an 11-year NBA veteran.
They have two trade exceptions they can use to sign a player, one for $3.8 million and another for $2.7 million that were acquired in their deal for Chris Paul.
They also have what's called a mini mid-level exception for $2.5 million, and, lastly, the Clippers have a 14-man roster, leaving one spot open.
"He's very valuable," Billups said of Martin. "Of course, he comes from winning stock. He’s been to the [NBA] finals twice. He has great ability. He is a leader. One thing I know about Kenyon, he’s a winner. He’ll do whatever it takes to win. He’s one of the great one-on-one defensive players for a big man I’ve played with. And, contrary to what everybody believes, he’s a really good dude."
Martin can sign with an NBA team as soon as the team he signed with in China, the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers, completes its season.
Martin signed with Xinjiang Guanghui during the NBA lockout, but the China Basketball Association stipulated that any players signing with a CBA team this year complete the season before returning to the NBA.
As the Flying Tigers are currently out of the playoff race, their season could end in mid-February.
Martin averaged a career-low 8.6 points and only 6.2 rebounds in 48 games for Denver last season.
-- Baxter Holmes
Photo: Nuggets power forward Kenyon Martin is guarded by Timberwolves rookie Kevin Love. Credit: David Zalubowski / Associated Press / October 10, 2008