Martin, 27, is a member of the Washington Wizards — at least temporarily. After starting the season in China and continuing it in Des Moines, he was finally signed by Washington to a 10-day contract on March 28. Perform well and he might receive an extension. Play poorly and he’d again be looking for work.
It’s a routine with which Martin is familiar. This marked his fifth career 10-day contract. He’s played in the NBA’s Development League, and overseas in Turkey, Italy and China. It’s an uncomfortable, nomadic life. Last summer, he visited a Texas tattoo parlor and had some more work done on his left arm, adding the words “Beware of the grind” to his ink collage.
“That’s what I do,” Martin says. “I grind.”
While the Wizards are playing out the string, Martin is auditioning — for next season and even for the next week. It’s been his unconventional reality since he left college in 2007, but it doesn’t necessarily get easier.
“It’s tough on your body, tough on your mind,” he said. “It can get stressful, but you just have to fight through. You don’t know when your next move is going to be, where you’re going to be in a week, when you’ll see your family again. You just keep grinding and hope it pays off.”
In Washington, he had 10 days to prove that he belonged, and the Wizards had 10 days to decide whether Martin deserved another contract.
The Iowa Energy rolled into Erie, Pa., and Martin and his roommate, Patrick Ewing Jr., checked into the Fairfield Inn before reporting for morning shoot-around. The team was scheduled to play that night, resuming a contest postponed 18 days earlier due to a sticky floor. Coaches told Martin the Wizards called and wanted him in Washington as soon as possible. The Wizards were battling injuries and had an open spot on their bench.
“We do a lot of scouting in the minor leagues, we keep track of these players since they were in college, and we try to make a decision based on what kind of player we need,” said team President Ernie Grunfield. “Cartier was right at the top of the list.”
Martin grabbed what little he’d brought to Erie — a sweat suit, a T-shirt, three pairs of underwear, sneakers, couple pairs of socks — and headed to the airport. A car service picked him up at Reagan National Airport and took him to the Hotel Monaco in Penn Quarter.
“They could’ve told me to sleep on the streets and I wouldn’t care,” said Martin, who’d previously played for the Charlotte Bobcats and Golden State Warriors and spent most of last season on the Wizards’ bench. “I was just happy to be back.”