Kevin Martin enters the final season of his five-year, $53MM contract as a trade candidate, and after a year that began with his name a part of the failed Chris Paul-to-the-Lakers deal and a continued presence in trade talks, he admitted he's surprised to still be with the Rockets. The high-scoring guard was coy when asked in training camp this year whether he requested a trade after last season, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports.
"You always go through mixed emotions," Martin said in response to the question. "The organization goes through mixed emotions. Things like that we’ll keep behind closed doors. I’m happy now. We’re good."
Martin is coming off a disappointing season in which he missed time with a strained right shoulder and saw his role in the offense decrease. He scored 17.1 points per game, breaking a string of six consecutive seasons of 20.0 PPG or better. Still, the 29-year-old retains high value as a trade chip, in large measure because his $12.44MM salary this season gives his team a chance to clear significant cap room next summer.
Feigen notes that coach Kevin McHale's praise of Martin in this year's camp seems out of place after a season in which there was apparent friction between player and coach. A pair of reports at different points during the 2011/12 campaign indicated Martin's displeasure in Houston, and while Martin is embracing the Rockets' rebuilding effort this year, he says it's "not ideal," as Feigen writes.
While the Rockets seem as anxious as any team to clear cap space, which keeping Martin around this year would allow them to do next summer, I think they'd be willing to listen to offers, especially if Martin and McHale's relationship turns sour again. They'd surely love to get a marquee player in return, as they tried to do last year in trading Martin for Pau Gasol, but they'd probably be willing to settle for draft picks and prospects if it came to that.