On an ESPN radio interview Tuesday with J.J. Stokes (yes, that J.J. Stokes) and Mike "The Mouth" on a Modesto affiliate, Mike asked a good question: Is Kevin Martin being signed for $55 million based on the player he is, or the player Geoff Petrie expects him to be? The answer, in my opinion, leans more toward the future than the past.
The best case scenario in Petrie's head is five seasons of elite play, with Martin performing on par with the $15-million-per-year types but coming at a lesser cost. Martin's breakout 2006-07 season only confirmed what Petrie thought he could be in the NBA, a supremely-talented scorer with the body and athleticism to be even more. If he had any doubt that Martin's game would keep rising, the extension would have been put off and Petrie would have forced Martin to repeat his performance and his future would have waited until the free agency period next summer.
Petrie will speak Wednesday afternoon about why he chose to handle this business now, but I'm guessing it goes far beyond the financials. Signing Martin now gives the fanbase something of significance to be excited about, a centerpiece of sorts to enjoy even if the team has the rough season so many are expecting. That fact is even more true considering the lack of other offseason action. And just in case no one noticed the incessant advertising of season tickets on the team's web site, it should be noted to you fans that the organization is certainly concerned about interest.
Money-wise, I see it as a tough call for the team and a very smart move by Martin to sign now. If Martin waited until next summer, he could easily lose money by way of injury or a backslide in performance. And with a new coach and the uncertainty that comes with that environment, who knows how the season will go? Before this deal, Martin was only guaranteed $1.8 million. It's safe to say the 26th pick who hails from of Boonsville College, err, Western Carolina, has lifelong financial security now for himself a few generations to come back in his Zanesville, Ohio, hometown - where the median household income in 2000 was $26,642.
The Kings, meanwhile, paid mightily for their high opinion of Martin, budging in the neighborhood of $13 million from the start of negotiations to reach the $55 million mark. As is the case with any big deal, the pressure is on the player now that he's gone from a K-Mart bargain to earning a King's ransom.
-- Sam Amick