- By Tim Wallis, Day 1, 2023
PORTLAND - While the Lumberjacks' search for a star wing has already seen multiple rejections, starting center Akieem Martin today guaranteed that the off-season would not be a complete failure by putting pen to paper on a 5 year, $80 million deal. The new contract sees Martin take a pay cut at age 29 while playing the best basketball of his career.
"We're surprised that there was so little interest in Akieem," confessed GM Tim Wallis. "While his asking price was more than fair, we were prepared to go all in if a bidding war erupted. We've talked a lot about how underrated Akieem is and this is further proof of that. No complaints this time, but I'm sure the big guy will have a point to prove this season."
Martin averaged 19.4ppg 11.4rpg and 2.5bpg in 29.4 minutes last season, starting all 82 games and setting the tone for an overachieving Jacks team with his toughness and courage.
"It's great to finally get this done," declared Martin at today's press conference. "The future has been hard to read for the last few years, bouncing from Oakland to Mexico and then up here. I think the Jags was an important chapter for me. I had probably got a little too comfortable in Oakland and I was able to rediscover myself after the move."
Asked about the team's failed bids for Dontay Sowder and Antoine Peeler, Martin gave a small shrug.
"This is the second time in my career that I've signed on where I was for what i thought was fair money. For me, it's not about chasing rings wherever you think you can get them, it's about building something with your teammates, your coaches and the fans. My first year in Oakland we won 9 games. It took 5 years for me to see the playoffs, but that all just made the championship so much sweeter, and that's what I'm looking for again. I don't want to comment on what Sowder might have in his head, but if it's me...I'd be looking at that Scorpions ring as a little unsatisfactory and anything he wins in Seattle as almost...I don't wanna say worthless, but...the struggle getting there, that's an important part of the whole process. Skip that and you're robbing yourself if you ask me."