By JOSH NEWMAN
Special to ZAGSBLOG
NEW YORK – Following two 10-day contracts beginning on Feb. 23, the Knicks went and did what everyone expected them to do on Friday afternoon, signing reserve forward Kenyon Martin for the remainder of the season.
In his 13th season after being selected No. 1 overall back in 2000, Martin was signed to the first 10-day contract by the Knicks largely as an insurance policy with Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby nursing injuries at the time.
That was the plan then, but that has drastically changed. After logging just five minutes in his first six games in uniform, Martin has played at least 17 minutes in each of his last five games, including a 31-minute, 12-point outing in Thursday’s 105-90 loss at the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday evening.
Martin started at Portland and figures to see more heavy minutes moving forward as injuries continue to mount. Amar’e Stoudemire is out 6-8 weeks after undergoing a right knee debridement, Wallace is out for at least the regular season with a fractured left fifth metatarsal and Tyson Chandler is day-to-day after suffering a left knee contusion on Wednesday during a 117-94 loss at the Denver Nuggets.
Also on the injury front, Carmelo Anthony had fluid drained from his right knee on Thursday and is expected to join the team in Los Angeles for Sunday’s game against the Clippers. Anthony left Wednesday’s game at the Nuggets early after scoring just nine points in 21 minutes.
For the season, the 6-foot-9 Martin is averaging 5.7 points in 18.8 minutes per game. Over his last five games, those numbers have risen to 6.8 points and 21.8 minutes per game.
Martin will be playoff-eligible for the Knicks, who have seen their once hefty lead in the Atlantic Division shaved down to just one game over the Brooklyn Nets. The Knicks are currently in third in the Eastern Conference, one game ahead of the Nets and 2.5 games behind the Indiana Pacers for second.