Knicks sign K-Mart, add a much-needed presence
Everyone knew that the Knicks would be targeting a presence in the paint - someone who could haul in rebounds and protect the rim. The Knicks are 29th in the league in total rebounds, and dead last in blocked shots.
While there was speculation that the Knicks would be after Jermaine O'Neal, should he have been released by the Suns, O'Neal ended up staying put in Phoenix, forcing the Knicks to look elsewhere.
Kenyon Martin had been waiting for a team to call all season, and thanks to the Knicks recent struggles, he finally got that call. The Knicks have signed Martin to a 10-day contract in hopes that he'll earn a contract for the rest of the season. In 42 games with the Clippers last year, Martin averaged 5.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, a steal, and a block in 22.4 minutes per game. He stepped up in the postseason as well, playing in all 11 of the Clippers' playoff games and blocking an average of 1.7 shots in only 17.6 minutes.
One of Martin's biggest fans is Neil Olshey, the Clippers' general manager who signed Martin. "He demands excellence from everyone around him," Olshey told Yahoo Sports in November. "He expects his teammates to compete at the same high level that he does... If guys are not performing and are not as intense or focused on playing winning basketball, he's not reluctant to let them know about it."
That should be music to the ears of Knicks fans. The Knicks have played far too relaxed recently, almost seeming content with coasting their way to the playoffs and picking up their play then. They simply get out-hustled on a nightly basis, which is one of the most disappointing things a coach or fan can see out of his squad. However, what they don't seem to realize is that they have several teams on their heels for the second seed in the Eastern Conference, and that seeding could be huge when the playoffs come around.
When Martin comes in, the hope is that he'll put an end to the Knicks' "country club" atmosphere and get guys to play with passion and intensity. He could average one point per game, but if he gets this Knicks team hustling he'll be worth every penny of his contract.
What Martin also provides is depth to an aging, injury-prone front court. Marcus Camby hasn't played since January 10th, while Rasheed Wallace hasn't played since December 13th. The thought is that out of their three veterans who provide an interior presence, at least one or two will be healthy for the playoffs. Camby and Wallace, however, are both practicing, so if they return soon and Martin doesn't look good on the court, there's no guarantee he remains on the team.
Martin will be playing with several familiar faces in New York. He spent time with Carmelo Anthony, JR Smith, and Marcus Camby in Denver, and played alongside Jason Kidd in New Jersey - the best years (statistically) of Martin's career.