It’s time to overreact: Kenyon Martin to meet with Jason Kidd

We don’t know how serious this is. It might be a feeling out. It might be more than that. This may all mean nothing. But since it’s been reported, that means someone (probably an agent) has leaked it for a reason and now there’s no avoiding it, so let’s just discuss this whole Kenyon Martin thing.

The Milwaukee Bucks and Kenyon Martin appear to be interested in learning more about each other, according to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports:

As you likely recall, Kidd and Martin were teammates with the New Jersey Nets and the leaders of back-to-back NBA Finals teams in 2002 and 2003. They reunited on the surprising 2012-13 New York Knicks, after Martin joined the team mid-season. While Kidd retired and joined the Brooklyn Nets as head coach, Martin spent another season with the Knicks before entering free agency this off season.

Jabari Parker‘s torn ACL weakened Milwaukee’s front court in mid-December and various ailments, the most recent a concussion that may be cause for lingering concern, have left Ersan Ilyasova active only once since the start of December. Second round pick Johnny O’Bryant has started the past six games for Milwaukee, occasionally flashing an ability to score in the post, but more frequently looking a little overwhelmed. In 10 minutes per game this season, he’s averaging just 1.3 rebounds. Milwaukee’s other second round pick, Damien Inglis, has yet to take the court, though he appears to be out of his walking boot after foot surgery.

Milwaukee’s roster is currently at 15, so the Bucks would either have to get an disabled player exception for Parker to open up a roster spot, make a trade in which they take back one less player than they give up or release a player to create a roster spot. It’s unclear what would be necessary for Milwaukee to be granted a disabled player exception, though if I recall correctly, the league doesn’t typically hand them out to any team that happens to lose a guy for a season.

Even with 15 guys, Milwaukee’s battling some depth issues up front. And while the team has managed to split its past six games, rebounding has certainly cropped up as a recurring issue. Over his past three seasons, Martin’s rebound rate has hovered between 11-13%, which would put him on par with Giannis Antetokounmpo, John Henson and Ersan Ilyasova as a rebounder. He wouldn’t solve all of Milwaukee’s woes, but he could potentially be a contributor.

Sixth Seed or Bust

If Martin is a positive contributor, that helps Milwaukee achieve a playoff spot, which would obviously be its new goal this season, a season that was supposedly going to be spent on the development of young players. Giannis continues to develop and Brandon Knight seems to have his ups along with his downs, but we’ve seen little of Henson even when he’s been healthy. Larry Sanders has battled for minutes with Zaza Pachulia and Kendall Marshall bounces in and out of the lineup. All of the decisions are justifiable as they relate to the team’s performance, but it kind of seemed like the team’s performance wasn’t going to be the focus this season.

A signing of Martin indicates that’s the primary focus the rest of the way.

Signing Martin isn’t working with an eye towards tomorrow. Lay out the blueprints for tomorrow’s Bucks and you don’t see Martin anywhere in them. He’s not helping the Bucks put a focus back on the future. He’s literally older than the movie Back to the Future. Maybe Johnny O’Bryant isn’t going to blossom into a rebounding force overnight, but I’d much rather watch him out there taking his lumps for 20 minutes every night rather than Kenyon Martin in a season that means even less without Jabari Parker.

Or maybe the Bucks could get creative and work Henson into the lineup next to a center. Go big and see what happens. Henson has played just four combined minutes with either Sanders or Pachulia this season. Sure, Henson has looked great as a backup center the last two games and, yes, Sanders being sick has thinned center depth further, but being closed to the idea of two bigs sharing the court seems drastic. Again, this was the season we thought would be about experimentation. Jared Dudley at the four? Sure thing. Giannis at center? Of course. John Henson and Larry Sanders together? Why not!?

It seems like Kidd prefers a bit more mobility out of his combination of big men, but why not mess around with young players rather than call up old friends who aren’t doing much? When things end with a girl in my life, my instinct may be to check out the contacts in my phone and see who I could call up to help combat the crushing feeling of loss that comes with the end of another fling, BUT THAT IS NOT PROGRESS. Progress is finding someone new, finding my own personal second round pick to develop.

Too personal? Okay. Let’s refocus.

Basically, a signing of Martin seems like business as usual, which we were promised was a thing of the past. My first thought when hearing about Martin was of Jerry Stackhouse, who was signed in January of 2010. He was a delight and ended up playing a role on a playoff team we all enjoyed watching. But Stackhouse was not long for the Bucks. He meant little in the grand scheme of the franchise and had he not been signed, perhaps there would have been more time for Jodie Meeks, who ended up getting shipped out at the trade deadline for a guy who used to know Brandon Jennings and a potential assistant coach.

Who is in charge?

This is the other thing. There’s no question that Coach Jason Kidd wants to win every game he’s coaching. That’s the instinct of all coaches and it’s a damn fine instinct to have. But sometimes, developing players should take precedence. I’m not saying there needs to be set number of minutes in place for younger players on this team, but maybe bringing in new veterans to help win games at the expense of playing time for younger players isn’t the correct direction for the franchise to be heading in, since it’s the same damn direction that led them nowhere in the past 25 years.

Of course Kidd is going to try to win games as a coach, which is fine, but that’s why there are executives above him that are looking at the bigger picture and controlling roster moves. At least we thought that’s how things were operating. John Hammond is the team’s GM. But if the Bucks bring in Martin, that seems like another move spearheaded by Jason Kidd. He’s played with Martin a bunch. Martin is coming to meet specifically with him. This is a Jason Kidd move.

If Jason Kidd is wielding more and more influence on Milwaukee’s roster, I’m less and less confident the Bucks are as invested in tomorrow as their hashtag would have us believe.

Categories: Fringe Players

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24 Comments

  1. Eh, we’ll see what happens. It doesn’t sound like we can sign him unless we cut or trade someone anyways, so we probably aren’t seeing the bigger picture of this yet.

    But regardless, signing him probably isn’t a big deal. You can say what you want about Kidd not focusing on developing the young guys, but at the end of the day, we really have 4 young guys that have any potential (and more realistically, only two guys that will prove to be of any importance: Giannis and Knight).

    The 4 young guys that appear to have at least a chance of being important players for us are those two, Henson, and Middleton.

    Knight is playing almost 32 minutes a game this month. Giannis is playing over 28. Middleton is playing over 24. And Henson has played 18, 19, and 21 minutes since his return. So 3 of the 4 are playing over half the games and Henson is playing just under half the games after he had been out for awhile. If he continues to play the way he has recently and still doesn’t see an uptick in minutes, then I will be upset, but I’m happy with the minutes those guys are getting, and I don’t have a problem with the fact that we’re winning games while our young guys are playing a good amount of important minutes.

    • And one more point… can we agree on the following:

      1. Giannis has improved dramatically this year.
      2. Jabari was progressing a lot as the season went on before he got hurt.
      3. Henson seems to have progressed and finally found his game since his return.
      4. Knight has improved as a scorer (at this point, I think the best case scenario is that he’s only handling the ball 50% of the time at the max, so that he can use his best gifts (motor and scoring ability) more efficiently.

      So for all this talk about how signing Martin to a 10 day contract means once and for all that we prioritize winning over developing our young guys, I’ve seen more development out of our young guys in 30 games this year than I’ve seen in the previous 10 years combined. Kidd has done a great job of teaching these guys the game and developing them, and at the same time, we are winning basketball games, largely because of these young players. This is progress, not a return to the old ways.

      • Take any 10 game sample of any season and you can make the same case.

        “LOOK AT HOW MUCH SESSIONS AND VILLANUEVA ARE PLAYING! BRIGHT FUTURE HERE!”

        “WOW BRANDON, MBAH A MOUTE AND BOGUT ARE RACKING UP MINUTES! BRIGHT FUTURE HERE!”

        “HOLY COW. MO, TJ AND BOGUT? BRIGHT FUTURE HERE!”

        I’d also contest that the Bucks are winning games largely because of Jared Dudley and Jerryd Bayless more often than not, with some help from the likes of Giannis/Knight/Zaza/Middleton depending on the night.

        • Okay… so using half the season as a sample size is jumping the gun, but saying that the Bucks don’t care about developing their young players because you heard that Kidd is going to speak to Kenyon Martin sometime soon isn’t jumping the gun?

          And you’re also just completely ignoring the progress that our young players have made, which is kind of the point of developing young players.

          You’re usually much more rational/realistic than this.

          • John Henson hardly ever played before Ersan/Sanders were out.

            It was one thing when Jabari and Giannis were front and center along with Sanders and Knight. It’s another thing when I’m watching Zaza, Dudley, Giannis, Bayless and Knight start to grab the lion’s share of the minutes. That doesn’t feel like a lineup that’s developing towards anything.

            The mindset at the start of the season was very, playoffs don’t matter. Now it seems like wins are taking priority, which isn’t so fun when Jabari isn’t even apart of it.

          • And yes, everyone has contributed to winning at various parts of the year. If we had sucked from the get-go this year, then it would make a lot of sense to just continue sucking and get a good pick. But at this point, that is extremely unlikely even without the vets. I just don’t see how it’s a bad thing that we’re winning games while our young players show progress and are playing a lot of minutes.

            If we start re-signing Bayless and Dudley to long-term deals and stuff, then yeah, I would be extremely concerned. But it’s blatantly obvious that guys like Dudley and Zaza are rubbing off on our young guys in very good ways. It’s blatantly obvious that our young guys are learning and improving. It’s blatantly obvious that our young guys are making big impacts on almost every game (good or bad).

            More often than not, I appreciate that you’re realistic about the team, even if it comes off as negative to other readers/listeners sometimes, but in this particular case, it seems more like you’re just complaining to complain. Is Giannis’ development really being stunted by playing 28-30 minutes a game instead of 30-32? Knight is certainly getting enough playing time to work on his game. Henson might not be a fit in Kidd’s scheme, but he’s started getting minutes again and has responded very well. It’s too soon to see if Kidd will reward him with more time or not. And Middleton is getting his bulk of the minutes too. It’s not as if we have a prospect like Giannis that’s riding the bench so that Dudley and Bayless can carry us to victory. Any of our young players that are worth anything are playing major minutes.

          • Sorry, I posted my 12:11 response before I had seen the one you just posted, but my response to your 12:09 post would be:

            Which players do you feel aren’t getting the minutes that they should be getting? Giannis, Knight, Middleton, and Henson (recently, but I agree that it’s definitely too early to tell if Kidd will keep him in the rotation moving forwards, which concerns me) are all playing a lot of minutes, so who are these players that you think should be playing ahead of Zaza, Dudley, and Bayless? Are we really fighting for the likes of Nate Wolters, O’Bryant, and Marshall? Their best case scenarios are that they end up being like Zaza, Dudley, and Bayless some day. And even then, O’Bryant and Marshall are still getting decent opportunities to prove their worth.

            This team has proven that it is not bad enough to tank for another top 3 pick, so in that case, I’d rather just give those minutes to the much better vets than the insignificant young guys. The important young guys are all still getting their minutes.

          • It’s more bigger picture than X player needs more minutes. I think it’s symptomatic of a problem when the team is winning playing a guy like JOB and all of a sudden they look to bring in a K-Mart. I don’t think JOB is great, but why even waste time with Martin? He just is another guy who could be taking minutes away from anyone else and providing little to no value to the organization’s future.

            I’d much rather see them look to offload a Dudley or a Bayless for a second round pick rather than look to pick up a K-Mart.

          • Okay, that sounds much more rational than the original response. I agree with you there (though I think I’ve been brainwashed into wanting to keep Dudley unless we get more than a 2nd round pick in return; I really love the little things he does on the court and think he’s rubbed off a lot on our younger players. On a completely unrelated note, I think he could be a great coach someday.)

            Don’t get it twisted… I am not at all in favor of signing Kenyon Martin, especially if it’s more than just a 10 day contract. I just don’t think it’s the end of the world if we do sign him. In all likelihood, his signing has almost no impact on our future beyond reading into the tea leaves of what kind of moves we might look to make in the future, which I guess is the way you’re looking at it.

            If it’s just a 10 day contract, it doesn’t really concern me at all, but if we sign him to a 1 or 2 year deal and he eats into Henson’s minutes, I’ll jump right in that boat with you.

    • You ALWAYS manage to get a knock in on Brandon Knight. He has not his ups and downs! He is been as consistent as any Bucks player all year long! Get it right! What bad game has he had? PG is not a PERFECT Position. They wouldn’t be anywhere near where they are now. Put Westbrook or Curry on this team and their record wouldn’t be better then it is. You are as good as those around you…

  2. I’m all for bringing in some help in the front court. I don’t think bringing in Martin or any other ancient player from the 90’s is much help, both this season, and moving forward. There are plenty of other options out there.

  3. The situation being ignored is that of the sixers. Do you really want a team of just raw talent that don’t have to earn their minutes and don’t have true veterans to learn good habits (like winning) from? Name one championship team that has been developed that way.

    My point is:
    1) it’s healthy for the young guys to have to fight for (or at least feel like they have to) their minutes. It makes them want it vs. just feeling entitled to it.
    2) Guys like Dudley have been huge in the locker room helping the young guys learn faster. It’s not all about on-court experience.
    3) Simply racking up young talent and setting them loose doesn’t bring championships, it brings bad habits. Kidd has been great about developing Giannis and Jabari but doing it intentionally the way the great players of his era had been, not playing 40 minutes and building bad habits.

    Brandon Jennings got all the minutes he wanted. How well did that work out?

    • Good point, Aaron.

      If any of our young guys would slack off — get lazy, get away from team-oriented basketball — then they should have their minutes cut accordingly. I don’t think the young guys on our team are likely to be lazy or selfish all that often, but we’re all prone to slacking off at times. To hold our young guys accountable, however, doesn’t mean we need an abundance of veterans.

      By the way, I’m generally getting to like our veterans, and appreciate that they’ve mostly played well this season; but there seems to be a couple too many of them, and they’re getting too many minutes. We should keep the ones who are good about buying into a youth movement, willing to play an important but secondary role, willing to sacrifice a fair amount for the good of the development of the team. (Possibly one or two of them could even have a fairly long future with the Bucks.)

      I’m thinking about how valuable a veteran in Boris Diaw seemed to be last season in helping the Spurs to win a championship, along with some unheralded young guys who stepped up big like Leonard, Green and Mills — providing a lot of help for the big three of Duncan, Parker and Ginobli.

  4. This is really good stuff, Jeremy. We’re looking at a lot more than the signing of Kenyon Martin per se. This is more nuanced that who gets what minutes, though minutes are important. The players will sense the choice in emphasis: now or the future, or a confused combination of the two. This is a matter of franchise philosophy, and who’s in charge to make that philosophy. This is about the whether the Bucks will truly be a winning team in the future.

    We really have to treasure all of our young guys on the Bucks, give each of them every opportunity to flourish and realize his potential, especially when we seem to have such a dynamic group of character guys who could develop into a truly special team. This really should be a season for playing lots of young guys, and experimenting with different combinations. While focusing on youth, with our older guys still important but complementary, we can still go all out to win — and I wouldn’t be surprised if a youth-oriented Bucks team did win enough to make the playoffs, anyway.

  5. This screams Kurt Thomas 2.0, does it not? He was fantastic in the locker room, and Bogut took a major leap as a player (prior to the injury) with his guidance. If he is here to help Sanders, Henson and JOB improve as rebounders and defenders, by all means, sign him. If he’s here to take 20-25 minutes a game away from Henson (or whoever), I think they’d be foolish to sign him.

  6. Forget all this crap about signing a journeyman vet to a contract. Play Henson 25 plus minutes and he’ll gives us the production we need … believe me. Sanders and Ersan will be back in a few days anyway. What’s the point?

  7. LMBO AT KURT THOMAS REFERENCE! Please, if thats what this deal has the potential to be, just dont! I also wanted to point out Jeremy compared JH to Dan Gadzuric…that is totally dis-re bro! If thats his ceiling than lets trade him now. Fun to see the comments multiplying tho.

  8. Does anyone know of Kenyon Martin’s locker room character? He always seemed like a head case to me. Not sure what he really offers this team on or off the court.

    Team development philosophy aside, it seems to me we would like to continue to explore the trade value of Ers, Sanders and Henson via playing time, so this just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

    And, if we are all jumping to the same conclusion, I feel bad for Hammond.

  9. My hunch is that Martin would rather go to a contender than the Bucks. Jason Kidd’s friendship is probably the only reason this meeting is happening. The only way I see him ending up here is if he gets no other offers. Dallas may be interested if a deal with Jermaine O’Neal doesn’t pan out.

    Regardless, I agree with Jeremy. Everything prior to this season seemed to indicate that we were building towards the future, that wins, however nice, weren’t the end goal. Signing Martin contradicts that philosophy, especially if guys like Sanders and Henson begin to lose minutes to him.

    And like Miggity said, even if we aren’t sold on the futures of Henson, Ersan, Sanders etc., giving them playing time and testing their value on the market makes a heck of a lot more sense than signing guys like Kenyon Martin.

  10. Funny thing, make of it what you will, but Jodie Meeks went off for 34 points tonight in 27 minutes, including 9-11 from the arc. Whatever the significance of this one game, I don’t remember Jodie getting a real fair opportunity with the Bucks — and my current concern is our young guys getting a real chance, especially when the best scenario for the playoffs is maybe a lowly seed of 6th or worse, in the extremely weak eastern conference. That doesn’t seem to be enough of a reward to justify shortchanging our young guys meaningful minutes.

    • Small Sample Size

      “make of it what you will”

      Nothing, because one game is insignificant compared to five years of mediocrity as a player. Not to mention that Jodie Meeks only played a half season with the Bucks and never because anything significant anywhere else but as a gunner on a horrific Lakers team last year.

      Just another carefully selected piece of evidence trying to justify an opinion.