Kevin Martin will be perhaps the best shooting guard on the free agent market this summer. Yet there is a growing sentiment that the Thunder might not need to re-sign him to continue contending.
On more than one occasion this season, Martin has stated his preference to return. But the decision might ultimately come down to money.
In a Q&A with The Oklahoman, Martin discussed the things that are important to him and how he envisions his first taste of unrestricted free agency playing out.
Q: When the time comes, what's going to go into your decision of where to sign this summer?
A: I don't know. I can have a perception of what's going to go into it, but this is going to be my first time doing it. My perception would be happiness and a good fit basketball-wise. I'm in a situation that after nine years I don't have to chase money. So I think that part goes into a lot of guys' minds when it happens. But for me, I found a new happiness here when I got traded here. It feels like a good fit. But we'll see when it comes around.
After nearly a full season here, are you still as happy as when you arrived?
Oh, most definitely. And a lot of that goes beyond basketball. To me, basketball's the easy part. It's how the organization is ran, how the community is, just interacting with the players the past five months that I've been here. It's honestly one of the greatest basketball experiences I've had in my career. I've been on one of the worst teams record-wise, and now I'm on one of the best. I've been a focal point of the offense and now I'm like the third option.
How do you feel you fit?
I feel like it's good. With anything, you always want more. But in this case, this year I've just been more effective giving less at times even though I know I can do a lot more. But that's the beauty of being here. My body feels like I'm 25 again. I don't have to take that beating every night. Some nights I enjoy it and some nights, as a competitor, I know that after the game it could have been a 30 to 35 point night. But I'm still fine.
How do you find that balance or walk that line of the competitor in you wanting to do more versus going elsewhere and doing more and maybe getting paid more but perhaps not being on as good a team?
I think that's where it just comes down to, what would you be happy with? And I love being a major piece on a championship-caliber team. I'm enjoying the ride.
What do you know about the free agency process, what do you expect it to be like and how long do you think you'll take to make a decision?
I guess that time for any player — especially one in my position where teams may still see me as a guy that can carry an offensive load for any team; and I still feel like I can score 20 just by waking up — is interesting. But it'll be fun also. Hopefully it's over as soon as possible and I'll be in a place where I'll want to be and where a team will want me.
Historically with this franchise, guys have had to sacrifice something, whether it's minutes or money. How familiar are you with that, and do you feel like that might be something you would have to do just because of who else is on this team?
That's a perfect question. You understand that this organization is held to a higher standard and if you want to be in a championship environment you have to sacrifice things. It says a lot about this organization that it's had two elite shooting guards that put their egos aside even though we could start for probably 25 other teams in this league.
When you look around the locker room, there is a lot of youth that the team intends to develop. What factor does that play into how things might play out this summer?
I just play my game. They know what kind of player I am and how I fit in here with these guys. We're great teammates. They're young guys and I'm just trying to help them get better as young players. Ultimately, that's going to help us at the end of the road.