With crowded frontcourt, Rockets open to trading KJ Martin

Shortly after his second NBA season ended, Rockets forward KJ Martin reportedly saw the writing on the wall and inquired about a trade after Houston secured the No. 3 draft pick in the 2022 NBA draft lottery. This top 3 placement enabled the Rockets to pre-design a potential franchise cornerstone.

Today, with Houston finally drafting two frontcourt players (Auburn’s Jabari Smith and LSU’s Tari Eason) in the 2022 first round, Martin’s concerns about playing time were clearly not unfounded.

According to The Athletic’s Kelly Iko, this could soon result in Martin’s request being granted by general manager Rafael Stone. Iko writes:

Teams including the Portland Trail Blazers and Brooklyn Nets also inquired about Kenyon Martin Jr. during the draft period.

Houston likes Martin and believes he can still make a positive impact on the roster, but the Rockets understand the nature of the minutes available — or the potential lack of them, now that three additional players are being drafted — as well as the return of Usman Garuba. Should a reasonable offer materialize, Houston is open to finding a better place for Martin elsewhere.

The 21-year-old athletic second-round pick of the 2020 NBA draft has played relatively well with the Rockets, averaging 9.0 points (52.4% FG, 36.0% on 3-points) and 4.3 rebounds in 22.0 minutes.

However, after Houston’s last draft, the minutes in the front court are of paramount importance and Martin understandably wants to play as much as possible to better position himself for his second NBA contract. The Rockets, on the other hand, have a clear emphasis on defense, and forwards like Smith, Eason, and Jae’Sean Tate project better in that regard.

Martin is signed for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons at a relatively cheap price of under $2 million a year, so he shouldn’t have a hard time finding suitors. If a team like the Trail Blazers or Nets makes a fair offer, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see Martin make a move this offseason.

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