The Houston Rockets have had a quietly busy offseason. They traded away Christian Wood for a first-round pick and four bench players, selected three players in the first round of the NBA draft, declined Jae’Sean Tate’s option and then re-signed him, and have been engaged in trade talks over Eric Gordon.
If you weren’t paying close attention, it could feel as if the Rockets had done next to nothing as their small moves were drowned out by a series of seismic headlines featuring star players and marquee franchises. The Rockets have been active and remain active, even if no one outside of Houston is paying attention.
However, there is one bit of news that seems to be flying under the radar even in Houston– Kenyon Martin Jr.’s trade request. On June 27th, The Athletic’s Kelly Iko broke the news that Martin inquired about a trade. This wasn’t wholly surprising because his father, NBA All-Star Kenyon Martin Sr., had voiced his desire for his son to move on from the franchise earlier in the offseason, and the Rockets' addition of Jabari Smith Jr and Tari Eason through the draft introduced more competition for minutes.
In the article, Iko reported that the Brooklyn Nets and Portland Trailblazers had made inquiries, but fast forward four weeks, and it’s all quiet on the Kenyon Martin trade front.
Kenyon Martin Jr.’s Age and Contract
Kenyon Martin Jr. combines youth and low salary in a way that screams surplus value. He won’t turn 22 until January of 2023 and is owed less than $2 million each of the next two seasons.
His salary over that period is comparable to what the 27th through 30th picks in the 2022 draft will earn. In essence, Martin’s age profile and salary are similar to that of a three-year college player selected in the late first round. For a late second-round pick, that’s an impressive rise and shows just how much he has grown since entering the league in 2020.
While organizations love young cost-controlled players, they prioritize on-court production above all else. Martin’s sterling effective field goal percentage of 59.1% was the same as Karl-Anthony Town’s and would have had him tied for 13th if he played enough to qualify. That alone portends an exceptionally valuable player, but upon closer inspection, his per-minute excellence raises questions over its sustainability and usefulness.