Kevin Martin loves playing with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Martin arrived in OKC as the main piece of the James Harden trade before the season and is averaging 15.6 points per game so far this season coming off the bench.
Martin is in the final year of his contract making $12.43 million this year. When he first arrived, his long-term future with the Thunder was something many thought wouldn’t exist. The Thunder are obviously not going to pay him $12 million after this year so he would have to take a pretty substantial pay cut to remain with the team.
“We’re not talking about that right now, we’re just living in the moment,” Martin told RealGM before the Thunder played the Nets in Brooklyn on Tuesday. “That’s all this is about. They brought me here to be a great fit for these guys and everything’s been positive thus far, so we want to keep that ball rolling.”
Despite the lack of negotiations, Martin made it clear that returning to the Thunder is a strong possibility.
“I love it,” said Martin. “I’m a Midwest guy and it’s going to be an interesting summer for myself, because I never got a chance to really be a free agent and I’m going to be high in the shooting guard class, so hopefully everything works out here. We have a great thing right now and I’m just living in the moment.”
It has been clear that Martin is fitting in well with the Thunder so far and he appears to really love the situation. It’s the first time basically ever he has played for an NBA title contender and he seems to want to cherish the opportunity and not waste it.
It’s hard to imagine the Thunder going much higher than $7 million per year to keep Martin in OKC after the year. Martin will have a lot of other options by that time and the success the team has this season will heavily influence what he decides to do.
If the Thunder win the title this season, they could get away with letting Martin walk. Or you can look at it like they should do everything in their power to keep him to try and make another run at a title next season.
If the Thunder don’t win the title and Martin isn’t great in the playoffs, it will be an easier decision to let him go.
The other thing to consider is what else the Thunder got in the Harden trade. They also received lottery pick Jeremy Lamb who plays the same position as Martin and is thought of as the long-term replacement for Harden, to a degree.
But Lamb has recently been sent down to the D-League and has basically gotten no run so far this season. If he never cracks the Thunder rotation this season than springing a little more cash to keep Martin might be something the Thunder find very important.
The season is still young and Martin is still learning the best way to fit in with the current Thunder roster. He has done so with relative ease so far this year and is really making himself an important part of the team that no one will want to see leave after this season.