Many Knicks fans have wondered, What is taking so long to re-sign Kenyon Martin?
The 35-year-old power forward came on strong for the Knicks last season, averaging 7.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and nearly a block per game in 24 minutes off the bench. Even Jason Kidd, during the first-round series against Boston, said Martin "saved our season." So it seemed to be a no-brainer that the Knicks would look to lock Martin up early in free agency.
But because of the NBA's new CBA, which involves a harder salary cap and higher luxury-tax penalties, some players and teams are waiting longer to sign this summer -- each with their own agenda. Players are holding out for the $3.18 million mini-midlevel contract, and teams are hoping players will end up accepting the less-lucrative veteran's minimum.
"I think all teams are waiting out the free agency," agent Jeremiah Haylett, who doesn't represent Martin, told ESPNNewYork.com. "They know guys will get nervous, and the longer teams wait, the more likely players will take a minimum."
Requests for updates from Martin's representation were unanswered. A player source told ESPNNewYork.com that Martin remains "a good possibility" for the Knicks, but he could still be in the market for a $3 million deal. The Knicks only have veteran's minimums to spend, and they could be exploring cheaper alternatives who have fresher legs.
The veteran's minimum has become the new "in" for salaries, which has challenged agents and increased the competition. Because there aren't as many dollars floating around, the waiting game and limited roster spots have become part of today's contract culture.
"More teams are scared to go over the salary cap because of the possibility of the multiple tax system," Haylett said. "Plus, there's the looming threat of the repeater tax. Therefore, teams will fight over star players for a high salary, but the remaining roster guys will have to be squeezed into as small of contracts as can be managed."
Haylett said free agency will be "an interesting time" over the next few seasons.
"When a star player can get half of the available team salary every season or more," he said, "it will start to create a bigger and bigger discrepancy between the high-paid players and minimum-paid players, as this new CBA continues."
So for the Knicks, will it mean signing Kenyon Martin for the veteran's minimum, or perhaps holding out to agree to terms with 22-year-old Jeremy Tyler? Knicks coach Mike Woodson has favored veterans, but he might be forced his hand to develop one or two young big men this upcoming season.
FREE AGENT UPDATES: So what other available bigs could the Knicks go after? Well, here are some who are likely going elsewhere (according to sources):
• DeJuan Blair: "He's in the $3 million range."
• Lamar Odom: "He will only play if he is with an L.A. team."
The Knicks are also in the market for point guards. According to a player source, the Knicks were still meeting about Bobby Brown over the weekend. The team's summer league point guard, Toure Murry, will likely be attending training camp.
Another PG the Knicks should monitor is Josh Akognon, who was recently waived by the Mavericks. According to a player source, Akognon, who played well during the Las Vegas summer league, has some lucrative offers to return to China. That goes for Brown as well.
One point guard likely not on the table is Nate Robinson, who's searching for a mini-midlevel salary. A player source said, "I really don't think so," on his future in New York.
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