The Minnesota Timberwolves should sign Kelan Martin with open roster spot

Kelan Martin, formerly of the Minnesota Timberwolves, has signed a two-way deal with the Indiana Pacers. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Kelan Martin, formerly of the Minnesota Timberwolves, has signed a two-way deal with the Indiana Pacers. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves opened up a roster spot after Thursday’s trade with the Atlanta Hawks. With the open roster spot, they should sign Kelan Martin to a fully-guaranteed deal.

Most NBA pundits knew the Minnesota Timberwolves were going to be active shoppers on the trade market ahead of the February trade deadline. Even so, the move with the Atlanta Hawks on January 16th came as a bit of a surprise.

There were no reports or rumors that Minnesota was close to trading Jeff Teague or even Treveon Graham for that matter. In the deal, the Timberwolves will be receiving Allen Crabbe for Teague and Graham.

This move created an open roster spot for Minnesota and created a little more flexibility in the salary cap. All three players involved in the deal were on expiring contracts as well, which will allow for more flexibility longterm.

Now that the Timberwolves have an open roster spot, they can choose to fill it in upcoming trades or free agency. However, there is a two-way player that has been a bright spot for the team this season and deserves to be on the full-time roster, Kelan Martin.

Martin deserves to be signed to a fully-guaranteed deal after what he has shown in the NBA and G League this year. Despite logging the first NBA minutes of his career this season, Martin looks comfortable and has continued to get better each game.

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This season he’s played in 17 games while starting three of them when the Timberwolves were shorthanded. In that time he’s averaging 5.8 points and 3.4 rebounds while shooting 35.8 percent from the field and 26.3 percent from 3.

On paper, those stats aren’t representative of his overall performance for Minnesota. Martin is a good shooter, despite his splits being below average.

Martin has played 16 games for the Wolves’ G League affiliate team this season, the Iowa Wolves. There he’s averaging 16.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game. He’s also shooting the ball efficiently, hitting 43.4 percent from the field and 38.0 percent from 3-point range.

Martin is coming off of a big performance in the G League scoring 39 points on Saturday night.

In a limited sample size, Martin holds the Wolves’ best defensive rating at 98.0 per 100 possessions. While he has one of the worst offensive ratings at 97.2, he’s played better than what that number shows.

Minnesota needs someone who can space the floor on this roster, and Martin can fill that void. The team has also experimented with Wiggins and Culver operating the offense, and that should continue even more now that Jeff Teague is in Atlanta. That creates more flexibility on the roster to plug in other guards and forwards on the floor.

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The Wolves could keep the open roster spot for flexibility in the coming weeks, but they should consider signing Martin to a fully-guaranteed deal based on his performance in Minnesota and Iowa this season. He’s showed the team that he’s more valuable than his two-way contract suggests.