Clippers' sales job works -- Kenyon Martin agrees to 1-year deal
Kenyon Martin got calls from his former Denver Nuggets teammate Chauncey Billups and from Clippers all-star guard Chris Paul, and he met with the team’s front office and Coach Vinny Del Negro. All of them expressed their hope that he would join the team.
The calls and talks worked, because Martin agreed Friday to a one-year contract at the mini-mid-level of $2.5 million.
Just before the Clippers took off Friday afternoon for Washington, D.C., to start a six-game trip that begins Saturday night against the Wizards, Del Negro said the 6-9 Martin provided the Clippers with badly need quality depth in the frontcourt to help out all-star power forward Blake Griffin and center DeAndre Jordan.
The plan was for Martin to take a physical Friday night or Saturday and to join the team in Orlando by Sunday or Monday.
But Del Negro said he didn’t think Martin would play in a game with the Clippers for a few days. When he does, Del Negro said, Martin will be the third big man on the team.
“He’s a pro and I think he’s going to fit in perfect for us,” Del Negro said on the team’s plane. “I’ve talked to him a lot and kind of explained everything and he’s very comfortable with the situation. Now we’ve just got to get him in here and figure things out as we go forward.”
Martin averaged just 8.6 points and 6.2 rebounds with the Denver Nuggets last season in 48 games, but he has averaged 13.5 points and 7.2 rebounds over his 11-year NBA career in New Jersey and Denver.
Martin recently played for the Xinjiang Tigers in China before he left the team in December. He had been required to wait until their season was over before he could join any NBA team. But he was cleared to return to the NBA on Thursday by FIBA, the international basketball federation.
The Clippers won Martin’s services over the Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks.
It helped that Martin has a home in Los Angeles, that the Clippers were willing to provide him with the playing time that he sought, and that Billups and Paul sold him on the Clippers.
-- Broderick Turner in Washington, D.C.
Photo: Former Denver forward Kenyon Martin, right, guards former Clipper forward Elton Brand in 2006. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times.