Former Houston Rockets player dismisses rumors about his departure

Ime Udoka and the Houston Rockets moved into a new era without one young player.
Ime Udoka and the Houston Rockets moved into a new era without one young player. / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

The NBA is a business. It can be a cold place.

It's also a rumor mill. When a player leaves a team, speculation about his departure is likely to follow. Why did the relationship fall apart?

Take KJ Martin. When he left the Houston Rockets, there was plenty of speculation. Some suggested that his father, retired NBA All-Star Kenyon Martin, was responsible for his timely exit.

KJ Martin is tired of hearing it.

Former Houston Rocket sounds off on departure

Martin Sr. certainly has his opinions. He expresses them freely. The former number-one pick is among the most outspoken retired players around. When his son was on the Rockets, he wasn't happy with the team's intentional losing.

It's reasonable to assume that Martin Jr. wouldn't like the perception that his father orchestrated his exit from Houston. He understandably wants to be respected as an independent adult.

Should we believe what he's saying?

Former Houston Rocket likely left for business reasons

We think so.

Last summer, the Rockets jettisoned a lot of young players. Martin Jr. joined Usman Garuba, Josh Christopher, and TyTy Washington in finding new NBA homes.

Yet, Martin Jr. was a different case. He'd flashed more potential than any of those other young players. In 2022-23, Martin Jr. averaged 12.7 points on 63.5 True Shooting % (TS%) in 28.0 minutes per game.

Still, there's some noise in those numbers. A tanking team can present young players with an opportunity to play above their pay grade. Martin Jr. is an outlier run and jump athlete with a functional jumper. He's still a flawed player.

Martin Jr. was a poor perimeter defender during his time in Houston. He was prone to suspect decision-making on both ends of the floor. Martin Jr. was wildly entertaining, but he wasn't impactful enough toward winning for the Rockets to bring into Phase Two of their rebuild.

So, they sent him to the Los Angeles Clippers for a pair of second-round picks. The Clippers sent him to the 76ers shortly after. In spite of his potential, Martin Jr. hasn't found his footing in either location.

We can't help but wonder how his dad feels about it.