Kenyon Martin: What Former All-Star Brings to Knicks

Ryan DavenportContributor IFebruary 23, 2013

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MAY 17:   Kenyon Martin #2 of the Los Angeles Clippers in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 17, 2012 in San Antonio, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The man affectionately known as "K-Mart" is back in the tri-state area.

It's just not with the Nets, who drafted Kenyon Martin No. 1 overall in 2000. 

Instead, Martin is making his return to the NBA with the New York Knicks, who, though sitting third in the Eastern Conference relatively late in the season, are dealing with a handful of injuries to aging veterans. 

And that's precisely why Glen Grunwald signed the former All-Star power forward to a 10-day contract, though the team obviously hopes he'll take advantage of the opportunity to earn a deal that extends through the end of the season. 

In Martin, the Knicks are looking for an experienced big body to come off the bench and make life more difficult for the opposition, especially against explosive offensive juggernauts such as the Miami Heat and potentially the Chicago Bulls once Derrick Rose returns. 

No, this isn't the same player who was racking up nearly 17 points per game a decade ago. But Martin is a guy who is capable of, at least for short spurts, being a presence in the paint at both ends of the court for the Knicks, who have floundered as of late, losing four games in a row. 

Not surprisingly, according to ESPN's Ian Begley, the timing of the move is related to the prolonged absences of Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace:

Prior to the trade deadline, New York had expressed interest in signing a veteran big man due to uncertainty surrounding the health of Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby.

Grunwald said on Thursday that he's hopeful that Wallace and Camby can return this season but called Martin "insurance" if the veteran bigs can't get back on the floor.

Wallace has been out since mid-December with a stress reaction in his left foot. Camby has been sidelined since mid-January with a plantar fascia injury in his left foot.

Both players returned to practice Tuesday, but there is no specific timetable for either player's return.

Obviously, Wallace, a former All-Star, and Camby, a former Defensive Player of the Year, are relied upon to provide leadership and solid defensive play, and with both veterans continuing to miss time due to injury, Martin suddenly became a target for Grunwald following the trade deadline. 

At 35, Martin won't be able to contribute much more than he did as a Clipper last season. But even though he's slowed down considerably since 2010-11, he's still more than capable of eating up 15 to 20 minutes a night, while putting up a handful of points and grabbing a couple of rebounds.

With Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire both on the wrong side of 28, this Knicks team is built to win in the near future, and without Wallace or Camby, Mike Woodson's team lacks those veteran presences that teams like Boston, Miami and San Antonio have in spades. 

No, Martin alone can't replace Camby and Wallace. But if he shows up motivated and in shape, he'll do enough to merit Grunwald extending his contract through the end of the season. 

If not, he'll be back on the open market less than two weeks from now, which is why this is a signing that carries little risk for the Knicks.