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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves have made veteran scorer Kevin Martin available in trade talks, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday night.
With second-year guard Zach LaVine showing promise as a scorer and Andrew Wiggins playing more at the shooting guard position, the Wolves are looking to move Martin to free up more playing time for their youngsters. The person requested anonymity because the team does not publicly discuss trade discussions.
The Wolves have had conversations with two teams about Martin early this season, but had been reluctant to make a move while they were off to a surprising 8-8 start. They have lost eight of their past nine games, including 107-102 to the New Knicks on Wednesday night, prompting the team to place even greater emphasis on developing LaVine, Wiggins and Shabazz Muhammad.
Martin is averaging 12.7 points in 26 minutes this season. He has carved out a reputation over the past 12 years of being one of the league's most efficient scorers, using a herky-jerky shooting motion and a remarkable knack for drawing fouls from opposing defenders to score in bunches, either as a starting shooting guard or as a sixth man.
"You look at his numbers every year, very efficient offensive player," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said on Tuesday. "He has the uncanny ability to draw contact and get to the line."
But he has gone through an uncharacteristically long shooting slump this season. Martin missed a game for personal reasons on Nov. 7 and has struggled mightily to rediscover his shooting touch. Martin is shooting a career-worst 36.7 percent from the field and just 34.8 percent from 3-point range this season.
He started the season coming off the bench, but interim coach Sam Mitchell inserted him into the starting lineup on Nov. 23 in hopes of getting him going.
In three games last week, Martin averaged 26.0 points on 46 percent shooting and shot 47.6 percent from 3-point range. That included a 37-point outburst against the Lakers in which he bruised his right wrist.
He played well in the next two games, then shot 1 for 8 in an ugly loss to Denver on Tuesday night before sitting out the second night of the back-to-back against the Knicks.
Martin has a player option for next season worth close to $7.4 million, but it is unclear this early in the season if he plans to exercise that option or become a free agent and seek one more multiyear contract when he will be 33 years old.
In his second year in the league, LaVine is averaging 16.7 points over the last 19 games and shooting 37.5 percent from 3-point range. He has primarily been backing up Ricky Rubio at point guard, a decision Mitchell has employed in part for LaVine's long-term development and in part because the team has a log jam on the wing with Martin, Wiggins, Muhammad and Tayshaun Prince all seeing time.
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