The Denver Nuggets have decided to extend a lucrative six-year offer sheet to restricted free agent Kenyon Martin and are expected to formally present the offer to Martin on Sunday, ESPN.com has learned.
Martin must then decide whether to give a verbal commitment to the Nuggets or the Atlanta Hawks, who have already given the New Jersey Nets' All-Star forward a six-year offer believed to be worth more than $80 million.
Once Martin chooses between the Nuggets and Hawks -- a decision that might not come before Monday -- he would formally sign the offer sheet Wednesday. That's the first day free agents are permitted to sign contracts.
New Jersey would then have 15 days to match the offer.
Denver's decision to pursue Martin is a concession that it has no shot of landing Kobe Bryant, who looks to be deciding between re-signing with the Lakers or signing with the crosstown Clippers.
If Martin decides to sign the Nuggets' offer sheet and New Jersey matches, Denver will likely be forced to roll the bulk of its $20-plus million in salary cap room into next summer. The Nuggets have reached a verbal agreement to re-sign center Marcus Camby, but the three free agents they chased hardest were three of the hardest to get: Bryant and two restricted free agents, Martin and Manu Ginobili.
San Antonio was prepared to match any reasonable offer to Ginobili. The Nuggets and Hawks are hoping the Nets, amid whispers that incoming owner Bruce Ratner is looking to cut costs, don't have the same intentions.
If the Nets elect not to match the offer, they can try to coerce the Nuggets or Hawks into a sign-and-trade agreement before Martin officially signs the offer sheet. Once he signs an offer sheet, the sign-and-trade option disappears.