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Kenyon Martin returns from China, agrees to deal with Los Angeles Clippers

Scott Levin's picture

Kenyon Martin is poised to return to the NBA, but will his Chinese team let him walk away without a fight?

The former No. 1 overall pick agreed to terms on a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday. Martin, who played for the Denver Nuggets last season, signed with a Chinese team, the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers, when it appeared the NBA lockout would wipe out the entire 2011-12 NBA season.

The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) honors the Chinese league's rule that players must play out the entire season in China before signing with another professional league. Martin knew this rule when he signed his contract in China.

But FIBA has granted Martin clearance two weeks ahead of schedule, freeing him to sign with the NBA team of his choice. Chinese basketball officials may contest FIBA's ruling, and if the decision is reversed, Martin will not be able to join the Clippers until mid-February.

According to ESPN, Clippers officials believe there will be no delay, and they expect Martin to join the team immediately.

At age 34, Martin's once solid offensive game, which was aided by his spectacular athleticism, has dropped a level. But the 6-foot-9 power forward still excels defensively. With the Clippers, Martin will be expected to provide depth behind starters Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The Clippers also have Reggie Evans on the bench, but for a team that suddenly finds itself in playoff contention, the addition of Martin will certainly boost the frontcourt.

Other reported suitors for Martin included the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, Atlanta Hawks, San Antonio Spurs and New York Knicks. But Martin was possibly persuaded to join the Clippers by guard Chauncey Billups, who played with Martin in Denver.

Over his 11-year NBA career, Martin has averaged 13.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.2 steals per game. He started his career with the New Jersey Nets, where he helped the team reach two NBA Finals in four seasons.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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