Kevin Martin paused to consider the question for a moment.
A long moment.
The Thunder guard becomes an unrestricted free agent later this summer, but because of the high-dollar salaries it already has, Oklahoma City wouldn't be able to offer him the kind of money he's been making.
So, how much would he be willing to stay and play for?
“I think ... ” Martin said, then stopped.
Three seconds passed, then four, then five.
“This is a place I'd love to be,” he said finally. “It's going into a territory I've never been in, being an unrestricted free agent. I'm going to have some options out there, so I just have to see how the process plays out.”
As the Thunder heads into an offseason with much less uncertainty than it had a year ago — the James Harden negotiations loomed then — the biggest personnel question is Martin.
Will the Thunder re-sign him?
Even though Martin said many of the right things when asked about his future Thursday, that long pause could be a sign he won't be returning.
For starters, Reggie Jackson has emerged as a great first option off the bench. When these playoffs began, we weren't sure how he would perform in a backup role. Then Russell Westbrook got hurt, and we got to see him perform in a pressure cooker.
He averaged 15.3 points while shooting 47.2 percent from the floor. He dished out 3.7 assists a game while committing 2.0 turnovers. He got to the basket. He facilitated the offense. Jackson showed himself capable in the toughest of situations.
No reason to think he couldn't be the first man off the bench next season. And hey, put his quickness on the floor with Westbrook some, and it could really be fun.
What Jackson showed these past few weeks — in addition to the D-League promise displayed by sharpshooting rookie Jeremy Lamb — could make Martin the odd man out.
Martin played well this season, averaging 14.0 points a game. But that was his lowest scoring average since his second season in the NBA. Five of the last six seasons, he averaged over 20 points a game.
No doubt his role changed when he was traded before the season to Oklahoma City, where he went from his team's first scoring option to its third. His game changed because of that, especially when he was on the floor with Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Martin was expected to be more of a spot-up shooter and less of a freelancer. Less drives to the basket. Less creating his own shot.
He never quite seems totally comfortable with that.
“I thought K-Mart did a great job,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks countered. “He came in with a role that he wasn't familiar with. I can't remember the last time he came off the bench. But he came in and did a good job for us.”
Durant said: “I love Kevin Martin. I love everything he stands for. I love his work ethic.”
The admiration is mutual.
“It's been such a good ride,” Martin said, “and I've met some incredible people in these past six months, incredible teammates. I think I would love to have this opportunity again.”
But will it happen?
Martin was paid $12.4 million this season, the final year of his first big contract in the league. No way the Thunder could realistically offer him even half that.
And even that might be too much of a stretch.
Without Martin, the team's payroll next season is about $68 million, and that doesn't include any draft picks that would come this summer. Even if the Thunder only signs the No. 12 draft pick that it has, that salary alone would run $2 million and would push the team right to the luxury-tax line.
There will be other teams willing to give him much more than the Thunder will.
“I'm at a point in my career where I don't need to get what I can get,” Martin said. “It's more about happiness. I've been on both sides of the fence — being on a championship-caliber team and being on a team trying to make it into the playoffs — so I have a vision of what I want my career to be.
“The main thing is happiness and being a part of something special.”
That sounds like Martin is willing to take a pay cut and remain in Oklahoma City. But that long silence before he answered the question of how much he'd be willing stay and play for felt like a sign that either he's not hellbent on returning or the Thunder's not giving him positive vibes.
Maybe Martin will be back in Thunder blue next season. Anything's possible in free agency. But don't be surprised to see K-Mart opening in another city.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.