Experienced Martin looks to prove his worth with Bucks
ST. FRANCIS, Wis. — With his 10-day contract signed, Kenyon Martin is ready to prove he still has something to offer to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Martin participated in Milwaukee’s morning shootaround Friday and will be active when the Bucks take on the Minnesota Timberwolves at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
The Bucks are hoping the 37-year-old can help their depleted frontcourt, particularly at power forward.
"Whatever they need me to do," Martin said. "Whether it is no minutes, some minutes, whatever it is. I’m ready to do whatever. I know the situation coming in. They already have certain things established. I’m going to try to come in and fit in to do what I can.
"For a guy like me, I think I can prove what I am worth in the minutes I get and the things I bring to the table. I’m looking for more than 10 days."
With rookie Jabari Parker out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and Ersan Ilyasova still working his way back from a concussion, the Bucks worked Martin out Dec. 30 in Cleveland.
Martin also had workouts with Houston and Memphis, but the Bucks pursued the 14-year NBA veteran the hardest.
"They wanted me," Martin said. "They showed a lot of interest in me. When somebody shows that kind of interest, you have to reciprocate it. They had me come in and work out, and they stayed communicating with me and my agent. They told me to stay patient. That’s what I did, and now I’m here."
Joining a team in the middle of a season is something Martin has plenty of experience with. He signed with the Los Angeles Clippers a month into the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season and spent the first four months of the 2012-13 season waiting for an opportunity.
Martin eventually received a 10-day contract from the New York Knicks in late February of 2013 and contributed enough to earn another 10-day deal before he was signed for the remainder of the season. He then signed a contract with the Knicks in the offseason and played 32 games for New York in 2013-14.
"My mentality now was a little different now than it was then," Martin said. "I didn’t understand what was going on then. It was like, ‘I know I can play, what are you guys doing?’ I understand now that it is a business. I’m 37. Guys look at that.
"But I always thought it should be about if you can or can’t play basketball. I’ve proven over the years that I can do that at a high level in any situation or on any team."
While adding a 37-year-old to the mix certainly doesn’t seem to coincide with the team’s long-term rebuilding plans, Martin doesn’t figure to take minutes from young pieces like Giannis Antetokounmpo and John Henson.
Henson and Zaza Pachulia should continue to split the minutes at center, while Martin will be thrown into the mix at power forward with rookie Johnny O’Bryant and Ilyasova when he’s healthy.
"We all have watched the success he’s had throughout his career," Pachulia said. "He’s played in the Finals and in the playoffs. He’s been through a lot of things. He’s going to help our young team to learn. His experience is going to be huge for us."
Martin has made the playoffs 11 times in his 14-year NBA career, while Bucks coach Jason Kidd has 18 playoff appearances in his 20 years as a player and coach. The rest of Milwaukee’s roster has combined for 15 trips to the postseason.
"That’s impressive," Pachulia said. "That’s the exact experience that we need because we have guys on this team that haven’t been to the playoffs. Having experienced guys is going to be very important for this team."
Like Jared Dudley and Pachulia already have, Martin seems eager to embrace being a veteran presence in the locker room.
"I don’t like bad basketball," Martin said. "In order for me to teach and help J-Kidd and some of the younger guys, I want to do what some of the things the older guys did for me when I first came into the league as a rookie. You have to pass it down. I’m great with that."
It has been nearly a year since Martin last appeared in an NBA game, as he missed the final 35 games of last season due to chronic pain in his left ankle. He had offseason surgery to remove bone spurs from the ankle and said Friday that he’s currently healthy.
When Martin did play he was useful as a backup for the Knicks, averaging 4.3 points and 4.2 rebounds in 19.8 minutes per game.
"I still got it," Martin said. "I probably can’t jump like I could when I was 22, but I still can get off the floor a little bit."
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