Our exit interview series on the 2024 Clippers continues with KJ Martin, the young forward who barely played for the Clips before he was traded.

Basic Information

Height: 6’6

Weight: 215 pounds

Position: Small Forward/Power Forward

Age: 23

Years in NBA: 4

Key Clippers Regular Season Stats: 5.0 points, 1.5 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 1.0 turnovers in two games played with 40/20/50 shooting splits.


KJ Martin was the Clippers’ only acquisition in trade or free agency last summer, with the rest of their moves being through the draft. And fans and media thought Martin was an incredible acquisition, a buy-low candidate on a young player with immense athleticism coming off a breakout third season in Houston. There were worries about the three-point shot and ancillary skills, but Martin’s bounce and ability to slash to the rim seemed undeniable.

While the Clippers’ remained chock-full of veteran rotation players, the expectation was that Martin’s unique qualities as one of the few young and athletic players on the roster would give him the ability to carve out a niche as a versatile tool to play either forward spot or even small-ball center. There was even some thinking in the offseason that Martin could start to add some pop and bounce to an elderly starting five. But regardless, a rotation player of some kind was the hope, with the possibility for more.


That is, uh, not what happened. Almost as soon as training camp started, talk began to flow that the Clippers didn’t really know what to do with Martin. Nic Batum and Robert Covington’s shooting made them better fits next to the Clippers’ stars, the Clippers didn’t want to play too much small-ball after their backup center fiasco in 2023, and Martin lacked the playmaking or handle to play as a guard. Thus, after a rough preseason where Martin’s shot looked far worse than it ever did in Houston, he found himself out of the rotation as the season began.

Then, in a real surprise, Martin was included in the James Harden deal. It had been expected that one of Batum or Covington would be moved, and a near certainty that Marcus Morris would, but all four of the forwards being traded was a shock. Martin’s inclusion was even more of a stunner since the Clippers had just traded two 2nd round picks for him a couple months earlier. The Clippers’ KJ Martin era therefore ended nearly as soon as it began.

Martin stuck on Philadelphia the entire season and played in 58 games, but averaged just 12.3 minutes per game, by far the lowest average of his career to date. Martin really only got rotation minutes when the Sixers were struck most severely by injuries – he did not play at all when they were close to fully healthy. Notably, he did not log a single minute in the playoffs, even with Covington out for the whole series and De’Anthony Melton mostly out. It was a disappointing season for Martin, who followed up by far his best season as a pro with by far his worst.

Future with Clippers

Martin is young enough and played well enough in his first few years in the NBA that one down season probably won’t kill his market. However, it’s a bad time for him to be a free agent – if he’d become available last summer he probably would have gotten a real deal, whereas this summer he’ll probably have to settle for something around the minimum. Maybe a young, rebuilding team with the ability to take fliers on talented youngsters would give him a larger contract, like the Wizards or Jazz. Outside of that, the market for Martin might not be super hot.

Unlike the other Clippers who departed in the Harden deal, Martin has little history with the Clippers, for good or bad. He’s from Los Angeles and seemed excited to be dealt to the Clippers, but the immediate turning around and trading him probably left a sour taste in his mouth. I don’t think either side would really be too eager for a reunion.

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