Power forward Kenyon Martin during a break in the action against the Atlanta… (Doug Pensinger / Getty Images )
Reporting from Orlando -- The smile on Kenyon Martin's face said a lot.
Martin had just joined the Clippers for practice Sunday in Orlando — he didn't take part in the session, however — two days after he signed a contract to play for team.
Both Martin and Coach Vinny Del Negro said there is no timetable for him to play in a game, but Martin said he'd like to be in uniform playing before the team finishes a six-game, 10-day trip that continues Monday night against the Orlando Magic.
The Clippers won Martin's services over the Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks.
"The Clippers were a good makeup of a team before I got here," Martin said. "They were old and young. I'm about winning. I'm about winning basketball games. And I felt the best chance to help was here."
Martin felt as if he could provide Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan with a veteran's knowledge of how to be a successful big man.
Martin averaged 8.6 points and 6.2 rebounds with the Denver Nuggets last season in 48 games, but he averaged 13.5 points and 7.2 rebounds over his 11-year NBA career in New Jersey and Denver.
"With my knowledge of the game, I know I can help Blake," Martin said. "I've been where Blake is — a whole lot of athleticism and not really knowing how to play. He's getting it, but I think me being here, being around and talking to him and DeAndre, I think it's going to help a lot."
Martin recently played for the Xinjiang Tigers in China before he left the team in December.
Martin said he hopes to play in a game before the Clippers play at Dallas next Monday. Martin has family and friends in Dallas.
Ongoing attempt to improve
The Clippers will continue to search for ways to improve their team by looking at the best available free agents, and J.R. Smith will be considered one of the best for NBA teams when he becomes available after his team in the Chinese Basketball Assn. finishes its season.
The New York Knicks might have a big advantage in landing Smith because of the possibility he could be a starter for them and make more money, according to two people with knowledge of the situation who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
The Clippers don't have the mini mid-level exception because they used it on Martin, but the Knicks still have that exception, which is worth $2.5 million.
But the Clippers have two trade exceptions from the Eric Gordon and Al-Farouq Aminu trade to New Orleans for Chris Paul. One is for $3.8 million and the other is for $2.7 million, and the Clippers are willing to use those exceptions on any player. The Clippers also could use the veteran's minimum of $1.2 million to sign a free agent.
Denver, Smith's team last season, can't use the free agent in a sign-and-trade in a "post-transition" period.
That's why it would be difficult for the Clippers to acquire Smith.
Under the collective bargaining agreement, Smith isn't allowed to return to the NBA until his Zhejiang Golden Bulls team's season is over, and that might not be until after the NBA All-Star break later this month.