Kevin Martin, Rick Adelman, Flip Saunders, and a Disjointed Pack of Wolves

Slim Shady Kevin Martin is the newest member of the Minnesota Timberwolves

Insane news about Kevin Martin. He’s a Wolf. 4 years, 28 million. Wow.*

What does the Martin deal mean for the Wolves? A bunch of things.

First, management issues.

  • Slick Rick: It looks like we can’t write off Rick Adelman after all as a player in the Wolves front office. First Chase is re-signed (more obvious), and now Martin is acquired (less obvious). Adelman clearly shaped these moves, which will have implications that are likely to outlast Rick’s tenure in Minnesota.
  • C2: It appears that we now have an AdelFlip in the stead of our AdelKahn. But the chain-of-command  and command and control structures in the organization seem less clear than in Kahn’s last season in ‘Sota. Does anyone else smell an impending deathmatch?
 Second, on Martin specifically: as with most of the least-worst choice deals you make in life, there’s both some good and some bad here.
The bad.
  • Too little, too late? I would’ve been into this acquisition four years ago. Even three. Now? Not so much. Here we have a 30-year old guy who’s supposed to be a starter, and who’ll be getting a nice share of  the payroll, and who you can pretty much count on  to miss 20-25 games each season. (Like Pek, except Pek will be costing us at least $3-4 million more than Martin per season). Martin has averaged just 61 games played per season over his career. He’ll be 35 when this contract is up. He’s unlikely to become more durable, unless his injury risk drops because he isn’t logging many minutes.
  • Defensive woes: And, sadly, we already know what we’ll be getting from Martin on defense.** (The short answer is nothing. Rubio’s going to have to guard both backcourt positions.)

 The good.

  • Martin & Rubio: A unique offensive duo:  The good news is that offensively, Martin is pretty much an ideal backcourt mate for Rubio. In lieu of Steph Curry, Martin is one of the few twitchy, spastic, hair-trigger shooter/scorer guards in the League who helps an offense a ton playing off the ball–and in a way that complements Rubio’s passing game almost perfectly. Martin will feed off of Rubio’s textbook misdirection drive and kicks like few others could. That’s why an aggressive move to trade for Martin should have been made that would have coincided Rubio’s arrival from Spain.
  • Running Rick’s Sets: As all this suggests, the payoff we’ll see from Martin will be on offense. Nothing else. Just offense. But that’s okay. He fits perfectly into Rick Adelman’s offense. We know this from their time together in Sacramento. Martin will space the floor extremely well–something that was a major weakness last year with the personnel we could trot out on any given night.

I’m obviously wary of K-Mart’s various advanced age-induced arthritic conditions and his overall fragility and his (four-year(!)) contract and his 28-million dollars we owe him. We’ll enjoy watching Rubio and K-Mart for a while, but before long we’ll be crossing our fingers  that another team will view him as tradebait once we’re clamoring to get rid of him–which is likely to be right around the time Adelman leaves, probably after this season or next.

Third, and finally, the big question is whether you’d rather have Kevin Martin at 7 million per for 4 years than Andrei Kirilenko for the same price (for the sake of argument) for, say, three years (which is the minimum-length contract AK appears willing to sign).

That’s tough.

Their strengths and weaknesses are basically exact opposites. With Martin,  you give up Kirilenko’s defense and toughness and a small forward and a glue guy.  You get distance shooting and free-throw shooting and an actual man-sized shooting guard. With Chase Budinger back at the three and Shabazz Muhammad presumably slated to play some minutes off the bench at the three, it’s probably a moot point.

So let us hope that Kevin Martin is the piece that pushes the Wolves past the playoff-making tipping point *this season.* Else I worry that this relationship will sour very quickly.

The Outro

For those of us who experienced odd, delusional daytrips this week in which  the Wolves had a 2013-14  starting lineup of Rubio, Mayo, Muhammad, Love, and Pekovic: this is for you. And me.

*Be sure to take a look at Andy G’s post on the implications of the Martin and Chase Budinger deals for the Wolves salary cap situation. It’s money. Figuratively. 

**We know we’ll be getting Tim Kawakami’s 2013 “No Defense Player of the Year,” that’s what we’ll be getting.



Filed under Free Agency, Timberwolves

4 responses to “Kevin Martin, Rick Adelman, Flip Saunders, and a Disjointed Pack of Wolves

  1. Sheraz

    Shved should be able to learn a lot from KMart. For the first time, he’ll have the opportunity to watch a natural shooting guard on a day to day basis. Especially the way that Martin is able to draw fouls and get to the line. Last year Shved would get visibly frustrated because he couldn’t get calls.
    People say he’s more of a pg but he has all the skills necessary to be a solid sg, he just needs to learn the craft.

    • Good point – we can at least hope Shabazz can pick up a few things from Martin. You’re absolutely right that Alexey struggled to get foul calls last season. I often found myself sympathetic to his complaints, as he’d often be the victim of so many manhandlings that resulted in no-calls. So I don’t want to come down too hard in favor of the position that Shved doesn’t know how to use his body to draw fouls.

      Regardless of whether last year’s debacle with the stripes was part of a foreign rookie hazing regimen or symptomatic of deeper weaknesses in Alexey’s game, Martin still has some crafty fundamentals Alexey would do very well to learn. Exhibit A would be using screens better to get open without the ball in his hands.

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