Rockets on the verge of landing Kevin Martin?

Multiple media outlets have reported that the Rockets and Kings have struck a deal that involves sharpshooting off guard Kevin Martin.

…the Kings and Rockets have agreed in principle to a deal that would send Kevin Martin and three other players to Houston in return for McGrady and forwards Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey.

But that might just be the start.

As the teams hammer out the details today, there are reports the Knicks are still involved, intent on landing McGrady and unloading Jared Jeffries.

If no deal with the Knicks is made, the Rockets and Kings are still expected to go through with the swap.

The Rockets couldn’t come to terms with the Knicks because they were reluctant to take on Jared Jeffries’ contract without owning the Knicks’ future first rounders. They’ve reportedly coveted Martin all along, so when he became available, they went out and struck a deal with the Kings.

If it stays simply a Sacramento-Houston deal, the Rockets will have essentially landed Martin at the cost of Carl Landry and the undead body of Tracy McGrady. While Houston fans will be sad to see Landry go, they’ll be getting a dynamic shooting guard and one of the best scorers in the game. Alongside Aaron Brooks, the Rockets will have one of the great young backcourts in the league.

And the amazing thing is that it doesn’t appear that the Rockets will take on any long-term contracts other than Martin’s.

As for the Kings, they wanted a big man for Martin and they got a pretty good one in Landry, who is averaging 16-6 with 55% shooting. I’m not sure how he fits in with Jason Thompson and Omri Casspi, but he’s probably better than Thompson and Casspi can play small forward, so there should be room for all three. If the Kings are able to move T-Mac to New York, they’ll likely have to take on Jared Jeffries’ contract — he’s owed $6.9 million for next season — and will probably get a draft pick as well.

If the Knicks can clear Jeffries from the payroll, they’ll have enough cap space to sign two big name free agents this summer.

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Kings in no rush to evaluate Evans/Martin backcourt

John Hollinger writes that vulturous general managers shouldn’t get too excited about the possibility of prying Kevin Martin away from the Kings.

For starters, the Kings lack a great incentive to rush into anything before the trade deadline. Martin and Evans have played only nine games as a tandem, and the Kings would like to get a much longer look at the duo before rushing into any landscape-shifting moves. Second, Sacramento is enjoying its first small taste of success after an awful 2008-09 campaign and is hesitant to make any moves that would upset its momentum.

But mostly, the Kings don’t seem anxious to do anything because both the players and the organization think the pairing can work.

“Kevin isn’t himself yet,” Kings coach Paul Westphal said. “He just needs his timing to get a little better and get some of the rust off, and it’s going to be a really tough backcourt to deal with.”

Both players recognize that they’re going to have to make changes in their games to make the partnership flourish.

“I don’t have a mind frame to go out there and score 30 anymore,” said Martin, who seemed notably more active defensively after basically being a one-man offense last season. “[I’m] just trying to do other things, have more assists and get other teammates involved. While I was out, guys developed, and they’re good players. I show my respect by getting them involved, and [I’ll] attack when it’s there.”

Less than a month ago, I wondered aloud about the possibility of Evans playing small forward, and I still think that’s a viable idea. Evans’ length makes up for his relative lack of height and there’s no reason that the Kings should stick with the mindset that their best penetrator also has to bring the ball up and initiate the offense. Think a smaller LeBron.

So, maybe the Kings should try a lineup of Beno Udrih-Martin-Evans-Omri Casspi and Spencer Hawes or Jon Brockman and see how it goes. With Evans, Martin and Casspi, the Kings have a nice (albeit perimeter) core to build around. If they could find a true back-to-the-basket center (like Chris Kaman, Pau Gasol or Al Jefferson) and a bigger point guard who can hit the three and take on some of the perimeter defensive duties (like Kirk Hinrich or Rodney Stuckey), they’d really be in business.

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