Last week, Kevin Martin signed a five year contract with the Kings for a total of $55 million. While a lot of arm-chair GM’s have declared this contract to be too much, take a look at the facts:
Kevin Martin was in the top 10 of NBA shooting guards in the following categories: Steals, free-throws attempted and free-throws made, and field goal percentage. He’s ranked 11th in points per game behind some of the best scorers in the league — Kobe, D-Wade, Michael Redd, A.I., Vinsanity, T-Mac, etc.
Kevin Martin’s stats from last season and his size make him comparable to Larry Hughes, Rip Hamilton, and Joe Johnson. For the upcoming season, Larry Hughes will earn $12 million, Joe Johnson $13.5, and Rip $9.8. I know that a lot of people would argue Hughes and Johnson are overpaid, but no one can convince me that Rip isn’t worth more than he’s getting. Kevin Martin’s value has got to be somewhere in the same neighborhood as Rip’s current deal.
Last year was only Kevin Martin’s 3rd season — how much better can he be expected to get? If he can find a way to make an extra 2-3 baskets a game, he could become one of the top 10 scorers in the league.
The league isn’t exactly full of 24-year old 6’7″ shooting guards that hit 38% from 3pt line. Even if you think the Kings paid a little more than they should of, it’s not like he could be easily replaced if he left during free agency.
Kevin Martin is, unlike a lot of NBA players, team-oriented and coachable. He’s a hard worker and he has the respect of everyone in the Kings organization. His climb from bench warmer to regular minutes to starter proves he’s a hard worker and worthy of a big contract.
So what’s the bottom line? Comparing one year of stats to the rest of the league, Kevin Martin’s current value is probably about $9 million a year. However, if you assume Martin will continue to improve, then he will undoubtedly join some of the league’s elite scorers. While it might be foolish to pay a premium for potential, clearly the Kings haven’t risked much — an extra $2 million a year is a small amount to risk if you believe a player has the potential to become an all-star. Considering that most of the leagues top 10 scorers enjoy max contracts, and considering that with a little improvement Kevin Martin is close to becoming a top 10 (at least top 15) scorer, $11 million is a steal.