Kenyon Martin to the Clippers?
Chauncey Billups would like to see that happen.
In fact, the Clippers’ veteran guard said Saturday that he has reached out to the free-agent forward, a former teammate of his in Denver, about signing with the Clippers.
What are Martin’s thoughts about doing so?
“I’ll let him tell y’all that,” Billups said with a smile.
Asked about reports that the Clippers are one of a handful of teams that have contacted Martin, Coach Vinny Del Negro declined to go into specifics.
“Kenyon is an experienced guy that knows how to play, can play some [power forward], play some [center],” Del Negro said. “He brings a lot of athleticism …"
Del Negro neither confirmed nor denied that he has reached out to Martin.
Financially, the Clippers could make a strong play for the 34-year-old Martin, an 11-year NBA veteran.
They have two trade exceptions they can use to sign a player, one for $3.8 million and another for $2.7 million that were acquired in their deal for Chris Paul. They also have what’s called a mini mid-level exception for $2.5 million, and, lastly, the Clippers have a 14-man roster, leaving one spot open.
“He’s very valuable,” Billups said of Martin. “Of course, he comes from winning stock. He’s been to the [NBA] Finals twice. He has great ability. He is a leader. One thing I know about Kenyon, he’s a winner. He’ll do whatever it takes to win. He’s one of the great one-on-one defensive players for a big man I’ve played with. And, contrary to what everybody believes, he’s a really good dude.”
Martin can sign with an NBA team as soon as the team he signed with in China, the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers, completes its season.
Martin signed with Xinjiang Guanghui during the NBA lockout, but the China Basketball Assn. stipulated that any players signing this season complete the season before returning to the NBA.
Since the Flying Tigers are currently out of the playoff race, their season could end in mid-February.
Martin averaged a career-low 8.6 points and only 6.2 rebounds in 48 games for Denver last season.
The Clippers’ game Sunday at Denver will be Billups’ first trip back to the Mile High City since the Nuggets traded him to the New York Knicks on Feb. 22, 2011, in a deal that included Carmelo Anthony.
Billups said he was “very, very disappointed” to leave Denver by “just kind of being thrown into the deal.”
“That’s my hometown,” Billups continued. “I am Denver. That’ll never change. I’m going to live there when I’m done playing. My family is there. I love the town.”
But Billups, who attended high school in Denver and played at the University of Colorado in Boulder, said he has no ill will toward the Nuggets.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed about what happened when it happened, and, like I said, the fashion that it happened, but it is what it is,” he said.
Guard Eric Bledsoe practiced with the Clippers on Saturday and will be available against Denver. Bledsoe was recently assigned to the D-League Bakersfield Jam and played two games with them.