We Have Forever Left

Sam Amick has a predictably lovely update on Kevin Martin's ankle and Kevin Martin's spirit. In short: the ankle's good, the spirit's better. Martin said he's working out at 6:30 AM four or five days a week, and working out in the evenings as well.

Martin also talks up Tyreke Evans (his "eyes light up" when discussing how defenses will now have to account for two great guards on the floor) and Paul Westphal (he's relieved he now has a coach who isn't uptight when talking about the game). The most interesting stuff to me, however, was the only somewhat negative section, in which Martin rues the length of the rebuilding process and Amick asserts that Martin is closer to being trade bait than ever before.

I don't disagree with either sentiment: the rebuilding process is depressingly long (they all are), and obviously if things don't improve Martin will be one of the next to go. But this is overstated.

We're at the bottom. The upswing begins immediately. There is no longer false foundation (Ron Artest, Brad Miller, John Salmons) propping the team up. Seventeen wins does not overstate the core team's talent -- 34 wins, 38 wins did. I'll eat my hat if this team loses more than 62 games again next year. Teams show decent improvement on average after a sub-20 win season (something I'll have more on later this week), and the Kings in particular stand in decent position to get a bump: there's an impact rookie, improving players under the age of 23, and a near All-Star coming off a serious injury.

The Heat went from League's Worst to Fifth Seed on the basis of a healthy Dwyane Wade and the draft of Michael Beasley. Martin is not Wade, and maybe Evans is not Beasley. But we aren't asking for 40 wins, are we? If the team makes it to 25, we aren't bloody likely talking about trading Kevin Martin this time next year.

Further, Martin is 26 years old. He won't turn 27 until the midway point of the 2009-10 season. Some 27 players scored 20 points per game last season. Eleven were younger than Martin. Only two --  Kevin Durant and Ben Gordon -- didn't make the All-Star team. Martin is a year younger than Tony Parker and Dwyane Wade. Martin is one month older than Devin Harris, 2-1/2 months older than Danny Granger, 1-1/2 years older than Brandon Roy.

I think he has plenty of time, both here and in the NBA. Time is of the essence, but damn we have a ton of essence left.

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