Kevin Martin was the biggest piece the Oklahoma City Thunder received from the Houston Rockets when they traded James Harden. For the most part, the trade has worked out in OKC’s favor as Martin has averaged 15.0 points per game coming off the bench.
At the time of the trade, Martin was thought to be just a rental for the Thunder. He is making around $12 million this season and in the last year of his contract. Martin would have to take a pretty steep pay-cut to remain in OKC past this season.
Martin may want to do that.
“This summer, hopefully everything works out here,” Martin told Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday. “I haven’t said that too often. But I will put it out there; hopefully I have found a home in the NBA. I love playing with this group of guys. The organization is great to me. The community has been great to me. It’s the happiest I have been during my NBA career.”
“I’m enjoying life now,” Martin said. “In Houston and Sacramento, I probably didn’t get out too much. It’s fun just interacting with [Oklahomans]. It’s such a community feel. That’s what I love about the whole situation. The city itself, I feel like an Ohio boy here so I feel at home. Oklahoma City just reminds me of Ohio.”
Martin is a valuable asset right now for the Thunder and not just on the court. Expiring contracts are always big time trade chips and the Thunder may elect to use Martin as part of a trade before the deadline this season.
If the Thunder want to go after a big time player like Josh Smith, DeMarcus Cousins or Al Jefferson, they would certainly include Martin in the trade.
But at this time, the Thunder aren’t looking to make a trade, especially for someone that would be making that much money, otherwise they would have just paid Harden that money.
The Thunder could decide simply not to re-sign Martin at all and go with the cheaper option of Jeremy Lamb moving forward. The Thunder will also have chance to draft in the top 10 of the upcoming draft and may find a replacement for Martin there too.
Martin would probably have to re-sign with the Thunder for about $6 million per year for OKC to want to take him. OKC is trying very hard not to enter the luxury tax in the near future and with Serge Ibaka’s new contract kicking in next season, they will be right at the salary cap line even with Martin off the books.
If Martin does end up being just a rental for the Thunder, it will feel like the Harden trade wasn’t that great of a deal for OKC. Unless of course that rental involves winning an NBA championship this season.