SAN ANTONIO -- San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker laughed when he recalled the bench’s reaction to new addition Kevin Martin's first possession in the team's 109-101 win over the Chicago Bulls on Thursday.
Martin didn’t slip, fall or chunk up an air ball. Martin just did what everyone on San Antonio’s bench expected.
“It’s just unbelievable,” Parker said, still laughing. “The first time he got the ball, we were laughing. Timmy [Duncan] was like, ‘Oh my God. Unbelievable.’ He’s got a gift for that, man ... drawing fouls. I’m just happy he’s on our team now.”
Martin made his Spurs debut with 1:22 remaining in the first quarter. By the time the 11:21 mark of the second quarter hit, Martin was standing at the line, sinking a free throw after touching the ball for the first time, and drawing a foul on Chicago’s Justin Holiday.
San Antonio signed Martin for his veteran experience, scoring ability and uncanny ability to draw fouls. But when Martin’s name is mentioned, Parker said, “the first thing [that] comes to mind is our free throw attempts are gonna go up.”
Martin played in just three minutes and didn’t register a blip on the team’s stat line, aside from hitting 1 of 2 free throw attempts. It’s still too early for the Spurs to rely heavily on Martin for quality minutes. But considering the Spurs made Martin an addition so late in the season, it’s clear the club expects to lean on the veteran for production off the bench in the postseason.
The Spurs typically don't make splashy additions so late, but coach Gregg Popovich isn’t concerned about the prospect of Martin not fitting in.
“If I thought it was too late, I wouldn’t have done it,” Popovich said. “If I didn’t think so, I wouldn’t have brought him. Kevin’s basically a scorer. He’s an experienced NBA player, but he scores. He spreads the floor. He gets to the free throw line. He knows how to play.”
Martin arrived in San Antonio on Sunday, signed a contract Wednesday and hit the court at the team’s facilities Thursday morning for a shootaround before the matchup against the Bulls.
“Today was my first day on the job, and it’s a shootaround,” Martin said prior to Thursday’s game. “A lot of learning. I feel like a student like when I first arrived in Sacramento my rookie year. Today’s the first day on the job, and I’ve got a lot to learn. But I’m excited and I’m up for the challenge.”
A 12-year veteran, Martin joined the Spurs hoping for a chance to make a deep postseason run. One of five active NBA players to have connected on more than 1,000 3-pointers at a clip of 38 percent or better, Martin believed the Spurs presented the best chance.
“I think you look at where you’re at in your career, and when you’ve kind of been on a lot of teams where you’re a No. 1-option guy, but you don’t really get to play until the end of May or early June, I think I just wanted to be with a championship pedigree,” Martin said. “That was the ultimate No. 1 thing in my decision.”
The Spurs, despite the laughter at Martin’s expense, appreciate that.
“Great addition for us,” Tim Duncan said. “Obviously [there’s] a long way to go to kind of have him understand and learn what we’re doing. He was out there for a minute, and he does what he always does: He draws fouls. He makes plays. We’re excited to have that.”