Before they were the Brooklyn Nets, the New Jersey Nets reportedly made a call in 2004 that changed the face of a team that made back-to-back Finals trips.
The New Jersey Nets apparently made a decision in the summer of 2004 about one of the key players from its back-to-back Eastern Conference championship clubs, long before making the trek to become the Brooklyn Nets.
Kenyon Martin, who was drafted first overall by the Nets in 2000, became a restricted free agent in the summer of 2004 and told Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson on Scoop B Radio on Thursday that New Jersey never made an attempt to keep the All-Star power forward.
Martin wound up signing a seven-year, $92.5 million max deal with the Nets as part of a sign-and-trade arrangement with the Denver Nuggets.
Martin said the Nets sort of made the decision for him:
"“Yeah, it wasn’t up to me, man. They didn’t offer me a contract and that is what people don’t know. Like those people didn’t offer me a contract, you know what I’m saying? They didn’t even call me to offer me a contract. So I waited around and I waited around and they never called.“I had to do what we best for me and my family.”"
Martin had his best season in 2003-04, earning his only career All-Star appearance and averaging 16.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks in 34.6 minutes per game, while shooting .488/.280/.684.
That came despite missing 13 games due to injuries, a sprained left ankle that kept him out in early November and tendinitis in his left knee that sidelined him for much of March.
Denver was prepared to sign Martin to a six-year, $83 million offer sheet, but reached out to the Nets about a sign-and-trade in order to avoid having to start the clock on an offer sheet.
The Nets, who had hoped to get a power forward back from Denver as part of the deal, wound up with three first-round picks, a 2005 selection that originally belonged to the Philadelphia 76ers and two picks in 2006, the Nuggets’ own selection and the Clippers’ pick.
New Jersey wound up using the Clipper pick to take Marcus Williams out of Connecticut with the 22nd overall selection in 2006. He played two seasons with the Nets before he was traded to the Golden State Warriors in July 2008.
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The Nets wound up trading the other two selections to the Toronto Raptors in December 2004 to acquire Vince Carter.
This isn’t the first time Martin was hurt by a team’s lack of an offer. Entering the final year of his deal with Denver, Martin went public with his displeasure at the Nuggets for not at least discussing an extension with him.
Martin played parts of 15 seasons in the NBA, bouncing around after leaving Denver.
He signed with the Clippers in February 2012, more than a month after the lockout-shortened season started. Martin played in China prior to going to L.A.
He sat out most of the 2012-13 season before getting a pair of 10-day contracts with the New York Knicks that turned into deal for the rest of that season and he re-signed with New York in July 2013, but was limited to just 18 games in 2013-14.
His last NBA sting was in Jnauary and February 2015 with the Milwaukee Bucks, where he played two 10-day deals, but was waived less than a month after signing on for the rest of the season.
Martin, who was born in Saginaw, Mich., and grew up in Dallas, played at the University of Cincinnati and is back on the court in the BIG3.
The 40-year-old is captain of Trilogy and led them to an undefeated season in 2017 as they captured the first championship in the 3-on-3 circuit featuring former NBA players.
The team didn’t fare as well this summer, going 3-5, and was eliminated from the playoffs Aug. 17 with a 51-47 loss to the Killer 3’s, captained by Chauncey Billups and coached by Charles Oakley. Former Net Alan Anderson is also part of that squad.