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Nuggets' Karl, Martin say their relationship is mended

DENVER -- Kenyon Martin, who was suspended for
insubordination in the playoffs, and Denver Nuggets coach George Karl agree on one thing: how to describe their somewhat repaired
relationship.

George Karl Karl

Kenyon Martin Martin

"I think it's pretty cool right now," Karl said Monday.
"That's probably not a pretty hip way of defining it."

Actually, it's how K-Mart described it himself about 20 minutes
later.

"I'm cool, I ain't got no problems with anybody, I'm good. I'm
ready to play basketball," Martin said as the Nuggets gathered for
training camp.

This year, Karl is holding camp in Durango in hopes the time
away from the big city will help his team find a chemistry that
eluded the Nuggets all last season, which ended with another
first-round exit in the playoffs.

Martin, limited to a career-low 56 games after surgery on his
left knee five months before the season, was mad about his paltry
minutes against the Los Angeles Clippers in the playoffs and his
Game 2 halftime tirade got him suspended for the rest of the
series.

Conventional wisdom said K-Mart had played his last game for
Denver, but with five years and more than $66 million left on his
contract, he didn't get a ticket out of town.

Martin said he wasn't sure whether he'd be back or not because
"it wasn't in my control."

If it was his choice, would he have left?

"I'm here now, so that's neither here nor there," he said.

Karl said he's never doubted Martin's passion and saw their spat
as a case of two strong-willed people knocking heads.

"Every conversation that I've had with Kenyon since the
incident and even through the drudgery of the season, Kenyon cares
about basketball and cares about his team. It's just two guys that
probably are [more] similar than unalike butting heads a little
bit. Not a little bit, probably a lot," Karl said. "But we're not
to a point where I think everybody wants to say it is."

That emotional and psychological comfort level will only return,
Karl said, when Martin's completely healthy again.

"The point is getting him healthy, getting him confident,
getting him into feeling good about being on the basketball court
again," Karl said. "And for me, how I enable him to do that, is
what I want. I want somewhere along the way you see a happy Kenyon
and coach. I think that's possible. I don't think it's going to be
this war of wills.

"Don't get me wrong, we're both strong people and I'm sure
there's going to be some more blips on the screen. I'm sure there's
going to be some words of anger. But I also think we're both very
communicative people who don't mind getting into talking it out and
I think that's what we've been doing."