NBA

Kevin Martin “happy right now” in OKC, wants to stay long-term

12/23/12 in NBA   |   Mia781   |   953 respect

Initially, many critics though the Oklahoma City Thunder practically gift-wrapped the Western Conference for the Los Angeles Lakers when they shipped James Harden to the Houston Rockets. They equally mocked his projected replacement Kevin Martin. But the 29-year-old has easily slipped into the role, without letting the Oklahoma City miss a pace and now Kevin Martin could be a legit contender for the Sixth Man of the Year title awarded to James Harden last season.
 
Kevin Martin has developed far beyond just an elite scorer and one of the league’s top reserves, gaining increasing recognition on a good team with talent this season. The Oklahoma City Thunder guard senses a reflection of himself in Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant who’ve been given the daunting task of serving as franchise cornerstones at such a young age. Impressed by the Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant’s leadership and talents, Kevin Martin has also built strong chemistry with duo.
 
“Coming to a team like this, where we have Russell and Kevin as the number one and two options, it makes life easier,” said Kevin Martin.
 
And Kevin Martin appears to be a better fit with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, compared to the James Harden era. Although the Oklahoma City Thunders ranked No.3 offensively last season, they’ve spaced the floor the floor better and gotten more players involved on each play, resulting in more assists on baskets. Currently, the Oklahoma City Thunder rank No.11 across the league in assists.
 
The eight-year NBA veteran Kevin Martin’s unselfishness on taking shots has also rubbed off on Devin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who now too look for opportunities to transform a good shot into a great basket. There’s also an atmosphere of trust amongst the Oklahoma City Thunder.
 
“This team has embraced me and made my transition so much easier,” said Kevin Martin, who needs all the help he can get playing in a new city and under a new team as well as system this season. “At this point, that’s all I can ask for. We’re going to keep getting better as the season goes on. We’re having fun now, but we feel like we still have a couple more steps to take.”
 
Kevin Martin is averaging 15.7 points in 29.6 minutes on a46.9 percent shooting from the field as and 45.8 percent from the arc. He’s on a $12.5 million contract that expires this season. Given his success at replacing James Harden and playing for a team that has postseason prospects after landing in the NBA Finals last season, is Kevin Martin looing to make this a long-term thing?
 
“Oh yeah. I get that question a lot since it’s a contract year. There are going to be teams interested over the summer,” said Kevin Martin, “but I’m so happy right now and being with these guys has given me an extra pep in my step. It’s just fun being here. It’s a great organization and great guys. I’m happy right now.”
 
Although the Oklahoma City Thunder’s level of interest is unknown, Kevin Martin’s long-term stint with the team doesn’t appear as a realistic possibility until he drops the number on his contract. The Oklahoma City Thunders are already on the books for $67 million next season and $66 million the season after.
 
The Oklahoma City Thunders could also let Kevin Martin walk at the end of the season and try their options with the drafts pick they gained from Toronto Raptors or target the free agency.
 
Whatever follows, Kevin Martin’s performance up to postseason will set the tone for the Oklahoma City Thunder’s move on the matter.
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