As minutes rise, KJ Martin happy to stay in Houston post-trade deadline

The Houston Rockets weren’t shopping third-year forward KJ Martin at the 2023 trade deadline. But with a contract expiring in the 2024 offseason at the latest and several other forwards on the roster, such as Jae’Sean Tate and a pair of rookies in Jabari Smith Jr. and Tari Eason, other teams thought it was worth checking in.

General manager Rafael Stone didn’t bite. With veteran Eric Gordon traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, Martin has a role as Houston’s starting small forward for the immediate future.

Martin’s long-term status with the Rockets will not be sorted out until there’s resolution on his next contract. On that front, both parties could attempt to negotiate a new deal this summer. But for now, he’s clearly happy to be in Houston, and enjoying the bigger role.

Regarding the trade deadline and reported interest from other teams, Martin tells The Athletic’s Shams Charania in a new interview:

It was kind of weird. It was my first time really being in a situation where teams wanted me, or there was a possibility that Houston could get rid of me.

But at the same time, I understood that it was nothing I could really control. It’s not like I was making the last decision about wanting to leave. So I kind of left that to the front office, and whoever else it was.

I just tried to stick to my game, and go out and play as best as I can… and help my team win. That was my focus throughout the whole thing. I’m glad to be here, though. I’ve been playing more. I’ve been trying to help all my teammates. It’s been fun.

A high flier, Martin will take part in the NBA’s annual dunk contest on Saturday in Salt Lake City. After All-Star weekend concludes, Martin returns to Houston to prepare for the last few weeks of the team’s 2022-23 regular season, starting next Friday in Golden State.

Now 21 years old, the 6-foot-6 forward is averaging 11.6 points (56.0% FG, 32.7% on 3-pointers) and 5.6 rebounds in 26.3 minutes.


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Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire