Saunders, Wolves make three-team trade for Kevin Martin official
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It took a little longer than expected, but the Minnesota Timberwolves officially announced on Thursday the addition of guard Kevin Martin, who was brought in as part of a three-team trade with the Milwaukee Bucks and Oklahoma City Thunder.
In exchange for Martin, who the Wolves snagged via a sign-and-trade with the Thunder, Luke Ridnour and a 2014 second-round draft pick were shipped to the Bucks. The Bucks received the draft rights to Szymon Szewczyk from Oklahoma City. Milwaukee and the Wolves also gained "cash considerations" from the Thunder.
Reports started to trickle out on Monday that the Wolves were close to a deal with Martin. A press conference was set for 9 a.m. on Tuesday but was canceled abruptly in the early morning hours, as Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders continued to make deals and maneuver around the salary cap.
Saunders confirmed on a conference call Thursday evening that the idea to work a sign-and-trade was to free the team up to make other free agent additions, which have been reported as the pick-ups of Corey Brewer and Ronny Turiaf, plus the re-signings of Nikola Pekovic and Chase Budinger. The Wolves still have yet to confirm those moves, but they are expected to make some sort of announcement Friday afternoon.
It has been no secret that the Wolves have been pursuing a player that could fulfill their need for a reliable and consistent shooting two-guard. Martin gives that to the Wolves, along with a much-welcomed benefit. Martin is well acquainted with coach Rick Adelman, having played in his system for a combined three years at Sacramento (2004-06) and Houston (2010-11).
Martin, a career 17.8 points per game scorer, shifted into more of backup role when he was traded from Houston to Oklahoma City last season, playing in the shadow of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Despite his different role, he still averaged 14 points and shot 42.6% from 3-point range.
However, Saunders is looking for Martin's status to be elevated once he's back in Adelman's system.
"We're going to ask him to do a lot more," Saunders said. "He's more familiar with our offense than anyone we have on our roster. He'll be able to teach our guys the offense better than anybody, and he's thrived in that type of situation. We're almost getting a player who has played for us because he knows the system so well."
For a team that was heavy on point guards, both Ridnour and J.J. Barea's names had been floated around as possible trade pieces. Ultimately, it was Ridnour who gained the most interest.
Ridnour heads back to Milwaukee, where he spent two seasons prior to his three-year stay in Minnesota. With the Bucks, the 6-foot-2, 175-pound nine-year veteran will be able to play more at point guard than he had been able to with the Wolves.
"It was a tough decision, but Luke was very much wanted," Saunders said. "Part of it was that he played 82 games last year and he's been a starter in the league as a point guard for a number of teams, for a number of years, and he had one year left on his contract."
Now the wait continues until the Wolves officially announce their remaining moves. After that point, Saunders' recent flurry of free agency activity should be pretty much over.