Trading away Ronnie Brewer yesterday opened up a roster spot for the New York Knicks, which the team quickly filled by signing power forward Kenyon Martin to a 10-day contract. As the short length of the contract suggests, the Knicks are not putting very many eggs in the Kenyon-Martin-will-be-a-valuable-addition-to-the-team basket. Nor should they.
One of the best things one can say about Kenyon Martin's basketball pedigree is that he is a recognizable name, which means that signing him gives a team and its fans the impression that he will be a valuable veteran presence on the team. Basically, it requires projecting values onto him that probably never really existed and certainly do not exist at this present stage of his career.
The truth about Martin is that over his career, at his best, he has just been an average player as evidenced by his career mark of 0.99 win shares contributed per 48 minutes. Additionally, over his career, his teams have been just 1.1 points per 100 possessions better than their competition with him on the floor as opposed to when he is on the bench.
If he were truly a player capable of being a difference maker, one would reasonably expect there to be more of a difference between his team's performance when he is in the game versus when he is not.
Of course, the aforementioned statistics include his prime, and entering his age-35 season, Martin is no longer within sniffing distance of the player he was in his 20s when he was at his most productive.
Instead, to get some idea of the kind of player the Knicks are acquiring, it is better to look at his most recent season, the 2011-12 season. During his 42 games for the Clippers last year, Martin was decidedly below-average, contributing only 0.48 win shares per 48 minutes and bearing witness to the Clippers being 2.1 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the bench.
It is unlikely Martin will be any better for the Knicks during the final 31 games of the season, provided the Knicks even renew his 10-day contract. Just like last season, if the Knicks do decide to retain Martin for the rest of the year, whatever benefit he provides to the team's defense when he is on the floor will be far outweighed by how much better the offense will be when he is not on the court.