The NBA season is nearly a week old, and Kenyon Martin doesn't know why he still can't find a job in the league. He helped the Los Angeles Clippers during their playoff run last season. His knee issues of the past no longer seem to trouble him. And he's even willing to take a contract for the league minimum.
So why hasn't any team called wanting to sign him?
"There is a notion about me that is not accurate at all – I don't know who started it or where it came from – that people can't control me," Martin told Yahoo! Sports. "I don't understand. Have I had my issues like a lot of other people? Yeah. But I'm getting back that people think they can't control me, that if I don't play I'm going to explode, or I can turn a locker room.
"In 12 years there was not one day where I told one guy to dislike anybody. If you ask guys who I've played with that know me, they know what it is and know I'm about winning basketball games and competing."
Martin came off the bench to average 5.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 22.2 minutes in 42 games with the Clippers while backing up Blake Griffin last season. The Clippers didn't attempt to re-sign Martin in the offseason. The New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks and San Antonio Spurs expressed interest at the start of free agency, sources said, but no NBA team has offered a contract – even a non-guaranteed deal – to Martin.
Martin, 34, had hoped to sign with a title contender. Now, he'll be open to joining any NBA team.
"If someone calls me tomorrow, I don't care who it is, whether it's losing or winning at this point," Martin said. "If someone calls me tomorrow and wants me to come in, I'm going. Guys are going down and [teams] are like, 'Well, we are going to stick with what we got.' I'm like, 'Really?' I started questioning myself, 'Am I that bad of a guy?' "
Martin wonders if his reputation as an emotional player who has been known to speak his mind is being held against him.
"Am I emotional? Yeah, but that's what made me who I am," Martin said. "Is that too much or did I not do enough? Do I have my flaws? Yes. But have I done things the right way on and off the court? Yeah."
Portland Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey was the Clippers GM last season when he signed Martin. He thinks Martin's intense side can be "misperceived."
"He demands excellence from everyone around him," Olshey said. "He expects coaches to be prepared. He expects his teammates to compete at the same high level that he does. The one thing about Kenyon, if guys are not performing and are not as intense or focused on playing winning basketball, he's not reluctant to let them know about it. And I think that can be misperceived at times."
Olshey said he was "thrilled" with Martin's impact on the Clippers last season.
"We don't win the Memphis series [without Martin] and we certainly wouldn't have finished as high as fifth in the Western Conference without Martin," Olshey said. "His ability to impact the game by guarding multiple positions, switching pick-and-rolls, blocking shots and protecting the rim was an element we really didn't have and it made us unique. I was thrilled with Kenyon in Los Angeles. He was a good teammate."
Olshey's Blazers already have a full roster with 15 players. And he thinks teams needing to develop younger forwards probably wouldn't have interest in Martin playing a reserve role. Martin just hopes he gets a call from someone soon.
"I understand I'm not bigger than the game," Martin said.
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