K-Mart to get 7 years, $90M

Originally Published: July 15, 2004
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

After it looked as though talks between the teams had been extinguished, the Denver Nuggets are on the verge of completing a sign-and-trade with the New Jersey Nets for All-Star forward Kenyon Martin, league sources told ESPN.com.

The Nuggets, according to sources, have agreed to send at least three future first-round picks to the Nets, who would sign Martin to a seven-year deal worth just over $90 million and then ship him to Denver.

The trade will be finalized by the teams and the league in an evening conference call. It's believed that no other players are involved in the trade.

Denver has been pursuing a sign-and-trade with New Jersey for days in hopes that it could avoid signing Martin, a restricted free agent, to an offer sheet. But the talks stalled, with the Nets hoping to receive a power forward back from the Nuggets -- Nene, the burly Brazilian -- and the Nuggets hoping New Jersey would settle for a package featuring Nikoloz Tskitishvili and multiple draft picks.

Going the sign-and-trade route enables Denver to pay Martin for seven seasons instead of six, since only the Nets can sign Martin to a seven-year contract.

More importantly to the Nuggets, the sign-and-trade enables them to avoid tying up their free-agent funds for 15 days while New Jersey decided whether or not to match a Martin offer sheet. ESPN's David Aldridge reported Tuesday that the Nuggets, resigned to the fact that a deal seemed dead, were prepared to include a signing bonus worth at least $15 million in the maximum offer sheet they could extend to Martin -- a six-year package worth just over $82 million. Martin also received a similar offer sheet from the Atlanta Hawks.

If the Nuggets can complete the revived deal Thursday, they will have one of the deepest front lines in the league, with Martin slotting in at power forward between small forward Carmelo Anthony and center Marcus Camby. Or the Nuggets could elect to start Nene at center and bring Camby off the bench.

The trade would break up New Jersey's highly successful trio of Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson and Martin, but the Nets -- with Jefferson headed soon for his own contract extension -- apparently prefer a package of good draft picks to the prospect of committing lucrative long-term deals to all three stars.

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Also, click here to send a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics