By Rob Mahoney
The NBA's 10-day contract has become a vehicle for veteran retreads, as teams on the brink of contention take an exploratory shot on a familiar name in hopes of bolstering a position of weakness. As a result, the mid-season free agent rumors become a who's who of 10 years ago; savvy point guards, slowed defenders and knee-braced big men look to latch on wherever they can, and typically a handful of teams compete for the chance to bring in a marginal player to try out for a minimum deal. The odds of those signings panning out in a big way are pretty slim, but the risk involved is so minimal that any team with an open roster spot would be wise to roll the dice.
That's just what the Knicks are doing after freeing up some space at the deadline with a trade of Ronnie Brewer. According to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, the Knicks will soon sign big man Kenyon Martin to a 10-day deal, cementing New York's reign as the oldest team in the NBA and providing an optimistic stopgap solution for a familiar problem. Martin hasn't played professional basketball of any kind this season, and was last seen providing bench minutes for the Clippers last year as a Reggie Evans alternative. Martin is a physical defender and a confident presence, but he isn't particularly productive or useful at this stage in his career. Nevertheless, New York has run through Rasheed Wallace, Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas in reserve roles already, and thus naturally turns to Martin in light of enduring injuries among that group of aged vets. Martin may still be good enough to earn playing time as a reserve given the Knicks' interest in preserving defensive integrity on their backline, but I'm skeptical that he'll be able to even mimic the defensive impact of the injured Wallace, who turned out to be a pleasant surprise after sitting out both the 2010-11 and the 2011-12 seasons. He'll body opponents, block a few shots and preen frequently, but this ultimately isn't a signing that's going to dramatically alter the Knicks' title chances.