Kenyon Martin

Kenyon Martin to become third Nugget to play in China

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Kenyon Martin is about to join J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler as key Denver Nuggets free agents that have decided to play a season in China rather than see how the lockout plays out.

And that leaves the Nuggets screwed for next season.

Martin’s agent Andy Miller confirmed to Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post the planned signing with Xingiang Guanghui in the Chinese Basketball Association. That is the team that also has former NBA player Quincy Douby.

“It’s a great opportunity for him to stay in shape and stay fresh,” said Andy Miller, Martin’s agent. “And it also gives him an opportunity to expand his name globally.”

The Chinese Basketball Association has a rule in place that players cannot have opt-out clauses in their contracts, forcing teams to only target players who were to be free agents. The Nuggets have a lot of those.

This means three key rotation players for the Nuggets are gone for the entire next season (there is the possibility of a handshake deal to cut these guys loose when the lockout ends, but don’t bet on it). It’s not that any of these guys individually is irreplaceable, but as a group they are. The Nuggets looked good at the end of last season because they played very team-oriented ball, with a number of quality players willing to defend and make the extra pass. Now that team is breaking up for at least a season.

Martin, age 34, started the 48 games he was healthy last season and was a key part of the Nuggets play bringing a physical inside presence, even though he averaged just 8.6 points per game. J.R. Smith was a sixth man of the year candidate for the Nuggets providing 12.3 points per game, and Wilson Chandler saw significant minutes and started 19 games for the team after coming over from the Knicks in the Carmelo Anthony trade.

All of them will play next season in China.

Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari has signed to play in Italy and Ty Lawson will be in Lithuania, but both of them have opt-out contracts to return to the NBA when the league ends.

Thabo Sefolosha’s lawyer: White police officer targeted black Hawks forward

Thabo Sefolosha
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NEW YORK (AP) — A lawyer representing a professional basketball player arrested outside a New York City nightclub has told a jury his client was targeted because he’s black.

Attorney Alex Spiro said Tuesday in Manhattan Criminal Court that a white police officer saw a black man in a hoodie when he confronted the Atlanta Hawks’ Thabo Sefolosha on April 8.

Sefolosha was arrested while leaving a Manhattan nightclub following a stabbing. He subsequently suffered a season-ending leg fracture after a confrontation with police.

A prosecutor said in opening statements that Sefolosha called an officer who repeatedly told him and others to leave a “midget.”

Sefolosha pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges. The Swiss citizen declined a plea deal from prosecutors.


DeMar DeRozan says he hates talking about free agency, takes pride in Raptors longevity

DeMar DeRozan
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DeMar DeRozan has a $10,050,000 player option for 2016-17. Given the rapidly escalating salary cap, it’s a practical certainty DeRozan will opt out and get a major raise.

But he says he doesn’t want to talk about it.

DeRozan, via Eric Koreen of the National Post:

“I hate that, honestly,” DeRozan said in a one-on-one interview. “I never speak about it. With me, I’ve always been that one player: I’ve been loyal. I’ve been every single thing you can think of here. I think people don’t understand how much pride I take in playing (in Toronto). A lot of times when I do get asked that, it kind of frustrates me.

“Everyday I wake up, I take pride in being the longest Raptor here. People bring up third or whatever in franchise scoring — there is so much stuff like that.”

This sounds awfully similar to LaMarcus Aldridge, who stated his desire last year to become the great Trail Blazer ever and then signed with the Spurs this summer.

Things change, and the impracticality of an extension ensures DeRozan will hit free agency. I believe he’s devoted to the Raptors right now, but his loyalty might change in the next nine months – especially once he sees contract offers from other suitors.

Toronto’s interest in DeRozan might fluctuate, too. He’s a nice player, but the Raptors haven’t won a playoff series with him despite winning the division the last two years. Depending how this season goes, Masai Ujiri might want to rework the roster significantly next summer, and letting DeRozan walk could create major cap space.

I believe DeRozan wants to return to the Raptors, and I believe they want to keep him. But so much can change between now and when both sides must make that call.