Nuggets' Karl, Martin say their relationship is mended

Updated: October 2, 2006, 6:37 PM ET
Associated Press

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
Kenyon 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."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press