The rise of Zach LaVine in Minnesota has made Kevin Martin all but expendable for the Timberwolves, and the veteran shooting guard is now on the trade market.
According to Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Martin may not play another minute on an NBA floor before the Wolves find a new home for him via trade.
The lack of playing time for Martin makes sense in Minnesota. Andrew Wiggins is firmly entrenched as the starting shooting guard. His backup, LaVine, has been even more effective. And the Wolves have a good young option in Shabazz Muhammad for the other wing as well.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for Martin somewhere. He may be shooting a career-worst 36.7 percent from the field, but he’s still converting threes at 37.8 percent (he’s at 38.5 percent for his career).
A team in need of some shooting off the bench could find Martin’s affordable contract (two years, $14 million left) and experience appealing.
The Miami Heat don’t really need to make a move. They have the 10th-best offense and the 7th-best defense in the league. But they may be interested in a little more punch off the bench, and they have a couple expiring contracts they’re not using this season.
Chris Andersen and Udonis Haslem have played a combined 142 minutes off Miami’s bench. Neither is part of the rotation now or figures to work his way in. They’re part of one of the least productive second units in the league, as the Heat are 29th in bench scoring.
Swapping two bigs who don’t play for a shooter who can space the floor for backup slashers like Tyler Johnson and Gerald Green could help the Heat move up that list.
It could also improve the overall offense a bit. Miami is scoring efficiently, but they’d be even better with more shooting. They’re 26th in threes made per game, which would be Martin’s specialty for the Heat.
For Minnesota, this deal would be all about the expiring contracts. They get out of the $7 million they would’ve owed Martin next season and can use the second-round pick to take a flyer on someone in the draft.
Andersen and Haslem likely wouldn’t play at all for the Wolves. They might even work on buyouts for both.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
The Los Angeles Clippers have one of the best starting lineups in the NBA, but their bench has let them down in a number of losses.
They’re 20th in the league in bench scoring and the second unit is rife with below-replacement-level players. In fact, the only two teams with more sub-zero “Value Over Replacement Player” players are the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers.
Someone who could provide some stability off the bench and take smart shots (not exactly a specialty for Jamal Crawford, Lance Stephenson or Josh Smith) could go a long way for the Clippers.
Martin would thrive off the ball in Doc Rivers’ offense, much like J.J. Redick or Ray Allen before him. He’s a catch-and-shoot weapon who would command attention running off screens.
Just losing Crawford would help the Clippers as well. He’s been a net negative on both ends of the floor this season. Offensively, his desire to launch contested jumpers is part of why L.A.’s Offensive Rating is about six points better when he’s on the bench.
Minnesota should do this just for the expiring contract. If they can wrangle a second-round pick out of the Clippers, even better. Martin’s not playing for the Wolves this season, so getting rid of the responsibility of paying him next season is good value.
Andy Bailey is on Twitter @AndrewDBailey.