Cartier Martin has been on quite the adventure in the year since he last suited up for the Wizards. He underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot, recovered, signed in China because of uncertainty about the lockout, dropped 49 points in a game against J.R. Smith, and went back to the Iowa Energy of the NBA Development League to play in anticipation of another call-up.
Martin finally found his way back to Washington on Wednesday when he signed a 10-day contract with a team he is very familiar with, despite some of the recent coaching, personnel and even uniform/color changes. But after practice, Martin insisted that the Wizards are also getting a different player than the one who played 52 games with the team last season and eight the season before.
“Over the last year, I have gotten better,” said Martin, who is also sporting a new hairstyle with twists. “Going over to China allowed me to handle the ball more and work on some of the things I needed to improve on, being in the NBA. By going over there and being strictly a 2 guard, gave me a chance to come back and handle the ball.”
In his previous stint with the Wizards, Martin had established a reputation as one of the better three-point shooters on the team. He connected on 39.4 percent of his attempts from long distance last season, highlighted by his game-tying three-pointer to force overtime in a home win against Philadelphia.
Martin averaged 4.4 points last season, but became expendable after he broke his foot and the team needed to sign Larry Owens to help at small forward for the rest of the season. After having a screw inserted in his foot and getting healthy, Martin went to China, where he experienced a different culture and climate than the Houston native was accustomed to dealing with.
“We were almost in Russia,” Martin added with a laugh. “It was a shock, because of the food. You go over there and think the Chinese food is the same. It’s not even close. As far as the people, they are good people and I respect them. It’s different from here.”
But he did find some good competition, with several players with NBA experience – such as Smith, Kenyon Martin, Wilson Chandler and Aaron Brooks – electing to play a full season in the Chinese Basketball Association and wait to sign with the NBA after the campaign ended. Martin averaged 26.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in 30 games for the Jilin Northeast Tigers but his team failed to postseason.
”It’s some great competition over there. The level of competition was good. I enjoyed getting to go against J.R. Smith. Wilson Chandler,” he said. “During the lockout, I didn’t know what was going on, family situation, I wanted to go make a little money, so went over there for a few months. It was actually a great league.”
Before he could get back in the NBA, Martin had to spend some time back in Iowa, where he averaged 18.3 points in seven games for the Energy. He also proved to be especially proficient in shots from beyond the three-point line, connecting 15 of 27 three-point field goal attempts (55.6 percent) of his attempts.
“Gives us a guy familiar with what we’re doing for the most part. Like I said, I’ve changed some things from Flip [Saunders], but a lot of things are similar,” Coach Randy Wittman said. “He was here with Flip. And a guy that can give us perimeter shooting, spacing on the floor. We thought we’d give him a look.”
Martin is hoping to hang on with the Wizards once more. ”I was blessed. God was watching over me and got a call-up. I was excited yesterday when I got the call. Getting in here today, getting a chance to be back in the best league, with this organization” Martin said. “It’s good to be with an organization you’re familiar with. They understand you already when you come here. I’m fortunate and happy to here.”