Nuggets interested in Martin, but how much?

Updated: July 7, 2004, 7:51 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Kobe Bryant is making the Nuggets come to him, but Kenyon Martin began his free agent tour Wednesday in Denver.

Despite the hospitality, Martin said he wants stay with the Nets.

"Sometimes change is good, but my No. 1 choice is to remain in New Jersey," Martin said. "I've said that the whole time."

Carmelo Anthony hopes Martin will change his mind and move to Denver.

An upbeat Nuggets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe said the talks were just starting.

"Getting him into Denver to see the facility is a huge step," Vandeweghe said.

"When we talked about guys we would like to get here, Kenyon is one of the first on the list," he said. "I am sure the Nets would love to keep him. He is an asset for any team and he has been great for them."

The Nets' restricted free agent, who is reportedly seeking a six-year deal worth up to $85 million, according to the New York Daily News, is among several star free agents on the Nuggets' wish list. Besides Martin and Bryant, the Nuggets have shown interest in Manu Ginobili, Carlos Boozer, Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson.

And with about $23 million in cap room available, reports the Newark (N.J.) Star Ledger, the Nuggets are one of the few teams that could afford to sign the power forward.

Neither Vandeweghe nor Martin's agent, Brian Dyke, would rule out a sign-and-trade deal with the Nets. Dyke said several other teams have inquired about such an arrangement.

Martin spent two hours touring the Pepsi Center Wednesday, and Nuggets officials planned to take him on a whirlwind tour of the city and dinner out before he left to meet with the Utah Jazz on Thursday and the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.

Anthony, who finished second in voting for Rookie of the Year last season, told the Star Ledger he'd be pleased to call K-Mart a teammate and has heard "through the grapevine" that Martin wants to play in Denver.

"He's a real energy guy," the Nuggets' small forward told the paper. "He's an All-Star. You know he's going to work hard every day. If we can get a player like that on our team, that would be great.

"From what I've heard, he wants to come here. That's just what I heard."

Anthony said he had not contacted Martin in an effort to lure him to Denver and had not spoken to him since the Nets played the Nuggets on March 10.

"I haven't really talked to him. I just heard he wants to play in Denver," Anthony told the Star Ledger. But, when asked if he would call Martin in the future, Anthony said, "If that's what [a deal] comes down to. I"ll do whatever I can do for it."

Martin has voiced concerns about the level of commitment the Nets' new ownership has to winning, but because he's a restricted free agent, the Nets could block any potential deals by matching a team's offer to Martin.

Incoming Nets owner Bruce Ratner has said he will do all he can to re-sign Martin, but did not guarantee the Nets would match any offer Martin might receive, the Daily News reported Wednesday. Furthermore, Nets CEO Rod Thorn has said the team will wait to see what offers Martin receives before taking action.

Martin said the attention was flattering but he was in no hurry to make a decision.

"Right now I'm just looking to play basketball and win," he said.

Despite Anthony's interest in signing Martin, who will also travel to Utah and Atlanta in the next two days, the Nuggets still may choose to pursue other options.

Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke and general manager Kiki Vandeweghe met with Bryant at his home Monday and were to meet with the Lakers guard again Wednesday, ESPN's Jim Gray reported.

The Nuggets also are believed to be planning to make a huge offer to Ginobili in the coming days, league sources told ESPN's David Aldridge on Tuesday.

Ginobili visited Denver last weekend before returning home to his native Argentina, where he plans to be wed this coming weekend. Ginobili is hoping to have a deal in place by then.

If the Nuggets make their expected offer to Ginobili, they would drop out of the Martin sweepstakes.

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