Last season was the first year in which Kevin Martin was allowed to have the keys to the organization. He was coming off of a 23.7 points per game scoring season (good for sixth in the league) and shot over 40% from three-point land. He had a brand new contract extension of five years and just over $50 million and seemed to be ready to be the number one scoring option for this franchise. And when he was healthy, he handled that pressure just fine. He made over two three-pointers per game, got to the free throw line 10.3 times per game, and averaged a career-high 24.6 points per game. But he only played in 51 contests. In fact, over the past two seasons he’s missed 52 games and seen his season point total, field goal percentage, and efficiency field goal percentage decline each year of the past three.
He’s the cornerstone of the organization right now but there have to be doubts whether or not he should be the number one guy. And if you start to believe that his slight build will cause injuries, which overshadows his ability to rival Carmelo Anthony as the best pure scorer in the NBA, then is there a certain point you begin to consider dealing him in order to maximize the return? The Kings did something similar (although with a much different team makeup) years ago with Peja Stojakovic. At the time, the Kings were worried about having to overpay Peja. But the Kings aren’t locked into a bad contract by any means with Martin. His $44 million left over the next four years is a bargain for someone that can average the taller side of 20 points per game. But if you can get the type of return for Kevin Martin now, like the Kings did with Peja in acquiring Ron Artest, you have to entertain the option of trading him in order to keep the rebuilding process going.
Now, I realize how ridiculous this sounds. Why deal a guy with a manageable contract who scores this easily? There are two reasons. First, outside of Beno Udrih’s signing last summer, Geoff Petrie has been pretty good at acquiring guys through free agency. Assuming the Kings don’t overpay for a free agent this summer, they’re going to have an obscene amount of cap space in the vaunted summer of 2010. Adding an $11 million cushion to that already burgeoning cap space could be invaluable for someone like Petrie. Second, very few VPs in this league maximize the draft like Petrie has. So if you can acquire another high pick for Kevin Martin to go with the eventual cap space, why not do it?
I’m not saying that they absolutely should trade Kevin Martin. He’s obviously not over the hill or a part of the team that needs to be jettisoned. But in a situation like the Kings with the team having good picks, good cap flexibility and one of the best front offices in the league, keeping their options open to anything should be a must. And Kevin Martin is probably the guy that brings in the most value.
So I’ve come up with five potential trades that the Kings could do this summer in order to a) fix their issue at point guard, b) acquire more young talent to build with, and/or c) keep the cap space growing to add the bevy of talent available in 2010. These are not rumors by any means – simply ideas. And they’re all done with the assumption that Ricky Rubio is selected before the Kings are on the clock.
First Trade Idea: Wizards trade the 5th pick and Etan Thomas to the Kings for Kevin Martin.
This trade actually wouldn’t be able to happen until after July 1st due to a trade restriction with Etan Thomas’ contract. But the Kings could get the Wizards to draft whomever they wanted to get with the 5th selection and be able to rebuild their backcourt with two young players to grow and develop together. The Kings would take a definite hit in the first year of this deal in terms of talent, scoring and production. But they would benefit in the long run.
Sacramento would be able to select Jrue Holiday with the fourth pick to be their point guard of the future and put him side by side with James Harden. Harden is probably the best shooting guard in the draft despite the drool-worthy potential of guys like Demar DeRozan and Tyreke Evans. So the Kings would go into the 2009-2010 season with a young core of Jason Thompson, Spencer Hawes, Donte Greene, Jrue Holiday, Francisco Garcia, and James Harden. That’s not a bad core of six deep by any means and something the Kings could either let develop together like a young Portland team or trade away for veterans like Boston pulled off two years ago. Not to mention, they’d have well over $20 million in cap space next summer.
For Washington, they’d probably do it in order to jump at the chance of putting Jamison, Butler, Martin, and Arenas on the floor together.
Second Trade Idea: Bulls trade Kirk Hinrich and the 16th pick to the Kings for Kevin Martin and the 23rd pick.
This one seems a bit risky (and a bit of a stretch) but if the Kings believe that Tyreke Evans or James Harden is the best player available at 4 then they might be willing to take the steady hand at point with Kirk (along with his better contract) and moving up from 23 to 16. They’d clearly be giving up some talent by going from a good scorer like Martin to someone in Kirk Hinrich who has been one of the bigger disappointments in the past two seasons. But Hinrich’s defensive ability and solid passing could be big steps towards getting this team back towards respectability.
The trade gives the Kings one fewer year on the books and a declining cap figure, which would be easier to move in the future if Hinrich didn’t work out. Harden would probably be the smartest pick with the fourth pick then because of his scoring ability, which should make up some for the loss of Martin. Moving up from 23 to 16 could guarantee the Kings a much better player. Guys like Terrence Williams, Earl Clark, and Sam Young would definitely be in play. Or they could even load up their backup point guard option with Eric Maynor or Ty Lawson as some Kirk Hinrich buyer’s remorse insurance. That would leave this depth chart heading into free agency:
PG- Hinrich, Lawson/Maynor, Udrih
SG- Harden, Garcia
SF- Nocioni, Greene
PF- Thompson, Thomas
That is not a bad roster to add on a veteran or two. Or they could fill with veteran minimum contracts and wait to spend their cash next summer.
Third Trade Idea: Cavs trade Delonte West, Ben Wallace, and the 30th pick to the Kings for Kevin Martin, Andres Nocioni.
This is a trade idea that is more about clearing long-term cap relief while acquiring yet another pick AND a potentially very valuable role player. This would just about decimate the Kings for next year outside of a solid draft and a free agent or two. This trade would alleviate $13 million from the Kings cap next summer and give them roughly $30 million in space, assuming that they don’t sign more than one-year filler contracts this year. It would also give them three first round picks and four picks in the first 31. They could easily package the 23rd and 30th to move up in the draft. Perhaps a deal with Phoenix (because you know how they love to safe money on draft night) or Detroit to move into the top 15 with their second pick of the night would work out.
With those moves, you could draft Jrue Holiday with the fourth pick and someone like DeJuan Blair or Gerald Henderson with the 14th or 15th pick. Throw in someone like Toney Douglas, Wayne Ellington or Patrick Mills with the 31st pick and they’d have another good core of players.
PG- Jrue Holiday, Beno Udrih
SG- Delonte West, Gerald Henderson, Wayne Ellington
SF- Francisco Garcia, Donte Greene
PF- Jason Thompson, Kenny Thomas
C- Spencer Hawes
Having those guys with roughly $25 to $30 million dollars at their disposal the next summer could build not only a playoff team but a Top 6 team in the West.
Fourth Trade Idea: Spurs trade Manu Ginobili to the Kings for Kevin Martin and the 23rd pick.
Okay, at this point I’m kind of pulling straws here. The Spurs are concerned about Manu’s ankle injuries. They’ve allegedly been shopping him around but they’re denying those rumors. So what do the Kings get out of this? Manu is only going to want to play for a championship and the Kings won’t be that next year. Manu’s deal is up after this coming season and he’d 100% leave for a shot at another ring. Well, it gives the Kings that cap space from dealing Martin for an expiring contract. But if they’re not getting young talent for him in addition to the cap space, would it even be worth it?
The only other value that would come out of it is for the Kings to be the major player/facilitator at the trade deadline with Manu’s talent and expiring contract dangling in front of hungry GMs. They could add a lot of young assets and draft picks for Manu or deal him for a good veteran or two from a deeper contender who is looking or a homerun. They would have the league at their feet trying to pry the most valuable trade piece from their grip. It would put them in a major power position, in which a guy like Petrie could really add some positive pieces to the organization.
Again, this is probably a terrible idea and just a laughable trade thought. But it works under the CBA.
Fifth Trade Idea: Raptors trade Jose Calderon to the Kings for Kevin Martin.
This actually seems like the most fair for both sides trade to me. The Kings would end up getting a very good point guard, who’s paid a very manageable and fair salary for the next four seasons. They’d then be allowed to gamble on a shooting guard like Tyreke Evans or even Demar DeRozan and allow that player to develop with a very good distributor. The Raptors would do it because they could probably pair Kevin Martin and someone like Jonny Flynn in their backcourt. It’s kind of a win-win situation.
So one more time to clarify, I would highly doubt that Kevin Martin is being bandied about in trade discussions right now and probably won’t be for years to come. But at a certain point, a guy becomes injury prone no matter how hard he tries to fight through it (like Kevin does). And Petrie wouldn’t be doing his job properly if he didn’t consider every player’s value.
You are now free to rip these apart.