Kenyon Martin was on the verge of being traded Thursday from the New Jersey Nets to the Denver Nuggets for three future first-round draft picks, a
source told the Associated Press.
The deal was the result of several days of on-and-off talks between the teams, the Nuggets successfully resisting New Jersey president Rod Thorn's
efforts to acquire Nene as a replacement for Martin at power forward.
The draft picks will include one of the Nuggets' own picks, along with two picks from a pool of three formerly belonging to the Los Angeles Clippers,
Washington Wizards and Philadelphia 76ers. There are varying levels of draft lottery protection on the three picks, though none are protected beyond
2006, according to a source closely involved in the trade discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The trade, expected to be completed later Thursday, will be a sign-and-trade deal — Martin signing a seven-year contract with New Jersey and then
immediately being shipped to the Nuggets for the three picks.
Denver can absorb Martin's salary without having to trade any payroll back because it is far enough under the cap to absorb Martin's first-year salary
— nearly $11 million if Martin gets the maximum amount allowed under collective bargaining rules.
The Nuggets will still have salary cap space remaining after the trade, though the exact amount will be determined by the structure of Martin's new
Martin, the overall No. 1 pick of the 2000 draft, averaged 16.7 points and 9.5 rebounds last season. He is known as one of league's best defensive
Martin is a restricted free agent, meaning the Nets have the right to match any offer he receives. But the Nuggets were reportedly set to offer Martin
a front-loaded contract with a hefty signing bonus, and the luxury tax ramifications would have been costly for incoming Nets owner Bruce Ratner.
But by losing one of the team's best players, the value of the franchise Ratner is acquiring has been diminished — at least on the court. New Jersey
won two straight Eastern Conference championships before being ousted last season in a seven-game second-round series against the eventual champion
The Nets have little depth at power forward, with third-year forward Brian Scalabrine and veteran Aaron Williams the most likely candidates to step
into Martin's old spot. Rodney Rogers, the Nets' other backup power forward last season, is a free agent.
The addition of Martin will strengthen Denver's frontcourt, which already includes Marcus Camby, Carmelo Anthony and Nene. The Nuggets next pressing
need will be acquiring a shooting guard — either a backup to Voshon Lenard or someone who can compete with him to be the starter.
Martin also had been heavily courted by the Atlanta Hawks, who have more salary cap space than any other NBA team but have been unable to find a
top-tier free agent willing to take it.