Kevin Martin is about to be a Minnesota Timberwolf, and though I knew that or something like it was coming, it makes me sad. I liked Circle K. I liked him a lot.
Martin arrived in Boomtown last October, fresh off the James Harden, and my impression of him was a one-dimensional player who could shoot and not do much else. Turns out, Martin wasn’t as bad a defensive player as I’d been led to believe, though he wasn’t very good, but he was a better offensive player than I expected. Maybe not a James Harden, but incredibly efficient. A guy who could shoot 3-pointers and draw fouls, which is a nifty combination when you can find it.
Martin was in a tough spot, trying to replace Harden, and handled it with grace. Even when his teammates lost their composure – remember the finger-pointing after the Christmas game breakdown at Miami – Martin stayed poised.
Also, Martin was fun to talk to. He wasn’t a fantastic quote or anything, but he was honest. Didn’t give canned answers. Didn’t take offense to questions about a shooting slump or a defeat. Just a pro. That’s what Kevin Martin is.
We knew Martin was a goner after last season. The Thunder would have loved to have him back but just couldn’t afford him. OKC isn’t the Nets. Money is an object. So when Minnesota offered a four-year, $28-million contract, Martin had to take it. The Thunder was in no position to offer him more than $2 million per season. You can read our story here.
But Martin says he will remember Oklahoma City. In his exit interview in May, Martin talked about how bright this season shined for him, after a career of mostly inconsequential games for Sacramento and Houston.
“It was great, man,” Martin said. “When I reflect on everything, it ended too soon. That’s what I want to say about the whole experience. We set ourselves up to be Western Conference champions this year. Heading into the playoffs we were playing such great basketball and then we have a fluke injury. That’s part of sports, but you never want to think it’s going to happen to you or your team. I feel like that’s how our season will be looked at now. It’s more like a ‘what if’ season.”