Kenyon Martin literally limped into the NBA, rising to meet David Stern on a recovering broken leg after being selected first in the 2000 NBA draft. He then broke his other leg during his rookie season, and has undergone two microfracture surgeries in the years since. The man is a gamer, though, coming back to the league to work as a bit player on a minimum salary for the New York Knicks, as opposed to resting on his long career’s laurels, and the hundreds of million dollars he’s made.
Because Kenyon battled an ankle injury in the preseason, and apparently because he wanted to bring some habitual order to the out of whack New York Knicks, head coach Mike Woodson decided to platoon Martin and fellow injured big man Amar’e Stoudemire in games off the Knick bench – giving them an every-other-day schedule on top of a minute restriction.
This was why Martin had to sit out Sunday’s embarrassing home Knicks loss to the San Antonio Spurs, even though Kenyon wanted to play. And this is why, on Tuesday, Martin was fuming about a minutes (and game) restriction that he doesn’t think should be in place. From the New York Post:
“Sunday wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination not just for me but for the whole organization — to go out there and lay an egg like that on your home floor,’’ Martin said after Tuesday’s practice. “People pay hard-earned money to come see us play. We shouldn’t put a performance like that out there.’’
“That’s been y’all and Woody,’’ Martin said edgily of the platoon and minute-restriction guidelines. “I’ve told you all I’m fine. Every time you ask me, I’ll give you the same answer, I’m fine — whatever the minutes is.’’
“It was difficult for me to watch any game from the bench, not just a loss. I want to play. I’m a competitor, man. It’s all about winning. It’s all about the team. [But] I want to play.’’
“I told you all before. I’m not going to go back and forth with the medical and those numbers. You keep throwing out these minutes. I don’t care about all that. … Guidelines are something for the papers.’’
The problem here is that guidelines aren’t just for the papers, and they’re not something the newspapermen in Martin’s face are dreaming up. Woodson is giving a 15-to-20 minutes limit in order to ride out what could be Martin’s last year, even with Stoudemire under the same restrictions, and center Tyson Chandler out for several more weeks with a fractured leg.
Woodson spoke with Martin soon after Kenyon teetered on Tuesday, but only played him 17 minutes in a win over the Hawks on Wednesday. And with the Houston Rockets coming into town on the second night of a back-to-back on Thursday, Woodson wouldn’t commit to breaking his every-other-game routine, though he did intimate that there’s a chance Martin will play. Again, from the New York Post:
“Maybe he’ll have a little left in his tank [Thursday],’’ Woodson said. “Kenyon and I are at a good place. I don’t mind him being upset. It means he wants to play and he’s hungry to play. That’s fine. It’s healthy.’’
The Knicks have put Martin, who scored two points with three rebounds against the Hawks, in a platoon because of his chronic ankle issues, but Martin keeps saying he is fine.
“That’s not the case,’’ Woodson countered.
That doesn’t really sound like these two are on the same page, what with Woodson outright telling the press that Martin is injured, with Kenyon insisting that he isn’t.
Martin has played just 70 minutes this year, and he’s barely shooting – the man has made six of the seven shots he’s attempted. His rebounding is in line with where it’s been for most of his career, that is to say “he’s rebounding poorly,” though his defense has been solid enough while working out of position at ostensible center. Still, the Knicks need the minutes; and Martin’s work with the ball in his hands is a far cry from what Stoudemire has given them this year: Amar’e has turned it over nine times in 44 minutes of action, Kenyon has yet to cough it up this season.
And if Martin and Woodson keep up with this back and forth, Kenyon will continue to fit right into this freak show. No matter how many minutes he plays.
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