In the summer of 2013, the Milwaukee Bucks were reportedly interested in Kevin Martin as a free agent. In the cold winter of 2016, they may still have vaguely warm feelings for the Timberwolves' veteran guard. Tell us about it, Twitter:
Bucks had exploratory trade interest in Wolves guard Kevin Martin, sources told Sheridan Hoops. One source called talks, "due diligence."— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) January 13, 2016
The Milwaukee Bucks, and other teams interested in trading for Kevin Martin, are hesitant due to his $7.4 million player option next season.— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) January 13, 2016
Told tonight (and after the taping of the new podcast) to add the Bucks to the list of teams with trade interest in Kevin Martin. #twolves— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) January 13, 2016
Whether this rumor actually has real legs is questionable; Scott and Wolfson are reputable, but they're also not suggesting anything is imminent, and it certainly seems like this could just be the Wolves leaking casual conversations in order to drum up demand for a guy they're clearly shopping.
Having taken a back seat to the Wolves' younger wings this season, the soon-to-be-32-year-old is widely expected to be dealt at some point over the next month, though it's generally been assumed that he'd be a target for a contender looking to add another bench scorer. After all, Martin is only a year removed from being a 20 point per game scorer in Minnesota, and his ability to shoot threes and draw fouls has historically made him a highly efficient guy as well (career 58.5% true shooting and 38.5% from three). He's certainly showing signs of decline -- Martin's true shooting has cratered to just 49.9%, his three point accuracy is down to 35.4% and his per minute scoring is down (11.3 ppg in 23 minutes) -- but he could presumably still be provide an offensive spark for a contender off the bench for a price ($7 million) that isn't that prohibitive.
Of course, the Bucks are clearly not a contender -- in reality they're remarkably similar to the Wolves, which is your first hint that the Bucks' interest probably doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Both teams entered Wednesday sitting 13th in their respective conferences, with the Bucks five games adrift of the eighth seed in the East and Minnesota six games back in the West. In other words, even with 40-some games remaining the playoffs are not in either team's immediate future. The Wolves have been worse than the Bucks of late, but overall these are two young teams who have bigger fish to fry than the 8th spot this spring.
Both teams also have a raft of young wing players, with Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Shabazz Muhammad needing major minutes in Minnesota and the Bucks finding time for Khris Middleton and Rashad Vaughn at the two and Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Middleton leaving no room at small forward (and very little at power forward as well). Perhaps more importantly, the Bucks already have O.J. Mayo and Jerryd Bayless, veteran guards who theoretically provide second-unit shooting/shot-creation as well as a dose of adult supervision in the locker room. But while Bayless has shot brilliantly when healthy, he's spent long periods sidelined with ankle injuries, and Mayo is suffering through a career-worst shooting slump while battling nagging muscle and finger injuries (37.3% from the field, 29.4% from three).
So could Martin be an upgrade on Mayo -- the guy they eventually signed in 2013 -- in particular? Possibly, though it's worth noting that a) Mayo has never shot worse than 36% over a full season b) Martin would almost certainly be worse defensively and c) Mayo seems to be well liked as the team's token semi-crazy big brother (you know, the one who doesn't take **** from other teams and refs). Those types aren't always constructive to have on a young team, but until further notice I actually like that Mayo brings some spunk to an otherwise young and polite roster. I wish he'd bring some consistent shooting as well, but you'd expect that to come at some point over 82 games, and if he doesn't...well, life goes on. Mayo's expiring $8 million salary also makes him a cleaner asset to move than Martin, though in and of itself that doesn't confer too much value, especially with 90% of the league's teams due to have max cap space next summer.
In short: yes, Martin could make the Bucks better, and depending on the Wolves' modest asking price it might not cost the Bucks anything of real consequence. But rearranging deck chairs shouldn't be confused with long term progress, especially given Martin's (lack of) defensive credentials and the comparable guy he'd likely be replacing. Other than the ticking clock on Greg Monroe's deal, there's no real need for the Bucks to be anything but patient right now, which will hopefully be reflected in the Bucks' mindset leading up to February's trade deadline. It's not a sexy solution to the Bucks' current problems, but it sure beats another Kohlian (and in all likelihood fruitless) run at the eighth seed.