Leading up to the 3 pm trade deadline on Thursday, all the Knicks trade deadline talk was about whether or not Iman Shumpert would be sent elsewhere. He wasn’t. The Knicks decided to hold onto Shumpert, but did however make a trade. Forgotten small forward Ronnie Brewer was sent off to Oklahoma City for a 2014 second round draft selection. With Brewer’s sending off vacating a roster spot, the Knicks have signed Kenyon Martin to a 10 day contract according to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports.
Let’s start with Brewer. I thought Brewer would be one of the steals of the free agent class, mostly due to his reputation as an elite perimeter defender. I thought he’d be okay offensively, assuming the Knicks would have a slow isolation-heavy offense. However, I didn’t anticipate Mike Woodson running a spread pick and roll style of offense. In the early going, Brewer had it going from downtown. Through the Knicks first 15 games, Brewer was a 41% shooter from beyond the arc and made teams pay for leaving him open, usually in the corners. However, as has been the case throughout his career, Brewer’s hot early season shooting eventually cooled off. Given the spread nature of the Knick offense, Brewer’s offensive ineptitude made him unplayable and he lost not only his starting job, but also his playing time. His contract runs out at the end of the season and he wouldn’t have been retained. I like this move because the Knicks opened up a roster space while taking back an asset, albeit a small one, in return. While a 2014 second round pick doesn’t seem like much, I think every asset is valuable in today’s NBA. That pick gives the Knicks slightly more flexibility now moving forward than they had before. Given that they weren’t playing Brewer anyways and would’ve just let him go at the end of the year for nothing, I think it’s a pretty good deal for the Knicks.
Now onto Kenyon Martin. I’m not a fan of this, for two reasons. The first, I don’t think Martin is very good at his advanced age, and two I don’t like the fit.
Let’s start with Martin himself, who showed pretty poorly with the Clippers last season after returning from China. In 42 regular season games with the Clippers, Martin recorded a Player Efficiency Rating of 9.9, well below league average. His 44% True Shooting % is definitely not what you’re looking for, nor was his 11.5% Total Rebounding Rate. To put that in context, Amar’e Stoudemire, a notoriously below average rebounder, has recorded a 12.5% Total Rebounding Rate this season. Martin was slow and ineffective on defense and shot just 37% from the free throw line. Granted he was better in the playoffs, but overall his body of work last year was not impressive.
Standing at 6’9, Martin really isn’t really a viable option to play center. I guess Mike Woodson could put him there if he wanted, but I don’t think Martin would be very effective in that role. I’m vehemently opposed to the Knicks phasing Carmelo Anthony out of that 4 spot on offense. However, Martin is a power forward and were he to share the floor with Anthony, I’d imagine that is where he’d play. Melo at the 3 is worse for the Knicks on both ends of the court. There’s a feeling around the Knicks that Woodson is going to start moving to more conventional lineups with two bigs and Anthony at the 3, which I think is a mistake. Signing Martin allows the Woodson more flexibility to do just that. I think a secondary lineup with Anthony, Martin and Stoudemire as the front court conceptually makes sense, but I still prefer Anthony at that 4 spot. The idea behind that lineup would be that Martin can compensate for Anthony and Stoudemire, both sub-par defenders, but given his level of play last season, I don’t have confidence that he can do that.
Martin also has a reputation as being a hot-head, so I guess he fits in with the Knicks from that perspective.
Overall, I liked Brewer, but he really had no role on this team. Martin’s role shouldn’t be all that large, but I said the same thing about Rasheed Wallace who has proven to be very valuable. I think we’re headed towards seeing more conventional lineups, rather than the small ball Knicks that got Mike Woodson to 50 victories faster than any coach in Knicks history.
Follow Taylor on Twitter @tarmosino