This season’s 10-day contracts have not been typical. The lockout condensed the NBA schedule, and while Martin’s previous 10-day stints netted him just a couple of games each, he was seeing far more court time in Washington — a total of seven games in 10 days.
While his numbers hadn’t been terrible, Martin also wasn’t sure what the organization thought of him. There are no daily progress reports and word of an extension doesn’t usually come until the final day. Martin knew that in a couple of days, he’d either be returning to Iowa to collect his belongings or he’d likely finish out the season in a Wizards uniform.
“You never know,” Wizards Coach Randy Wittman said of Martin’s contract on Day 8, before morning shoot-around. “You want to look at them. How they play dictates how much time they get.”
That night against Indiana, Martin played 19 minutes and scored four points in a loss. He missed both of his three-point attempts. It was another frustrating outing, but he didn’t have time to dwell. Following the game, he blended in with the fans outside the Verizon Center as he walked back to his hotel.
He talked to his wife on the phone and they discussed a possible visit in Washington — if he gets extended. They’d seen each other just a couple of times this year — when Martin returned from China and during a visit in Des Moines.
Martin stood in the hotel lobby shortly after 10 p.m., waiting on Eric Waters, the Wizards’ head trainer, to pick him up for the airport. The team had road games each of the next two nights, two final opportunities for Martin to make his case for a permanent job.
“Now the pressure is really on,” he said.
Day of reckoning
It was around midnight Saturday when Martin and the Wizards returned to Washington, touching down at Dulles International Airport. They’d lost two more games on the road. Martin had six points in 13 minutes at Detroit on Thursday and one night later put seven points in 29 minutes at New Jersey. He played well but didn’t know if he played well enough.
His contract expired after Friday’s game but management asked him to hang around Washington. His services were still needed, and the Wizards offered another 10-day contract. He was relieved and grateful but also well aware that the new deal also extends the lingering uncertainty by another 10 days.
On Sunday morning, Martin will again make the short walk from his hotel to the Verizon Center to scribble his name on a piece of paper, and the clock will again start ticking: Ten more days to prove himself.