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NBA Houston Rockets

Is Kevin Martin Happy?

After serving sixteen points in last night’s victory versus the Philadelphia 76ers, Kevin Martin strongly refuted an Internet report that he is unhappy with the Houston Rockets.

HoopsWorld.com writer Bill Ingram wrote Wednesday afternoon that “it’s not really a secret” Martin is unhappy in H-Town, likely based on comments Martin made following an abysmal six-game road performance concluded last week. After playing only seven minutes in the second half of a 10-point loss to Memphis, K-Mart said he would happily sit if the team was winning, but his frustration stemmed from his place on the pine as the team tumbled.

Last night Martin — who scored 14 of his points in the fourth — characterized Ingram as an attention starved fiction peddler, citing his status as the team’s leading scorer and Houston’s 20-14 record as evidence of his contentment.

But is Martin really happy?

He has reasons not to be. The season started sour for Martin with the trade that wasn’t — along with Luis Scola and Goran Dragic, Martin was on his way to New Orleans before David Stern vetoed the deal — and apparent post-lockout rust.

Outside of his consistently stellar free throw shooting, Martin’s numbers are down across the board.  His play hovers between extremes, following up a zero-point effort versus Memphis with a 32-point outburst against Oklahoma City. And whether it’s personal choice or increased effectiveness from other players, Martin rarely takes the final shots and often finds himself benched for large portions of the fourth quarter. Although Martin is more than capable of producing points with the NBA’s best, Courtney Lee plays with more consistency and defensive grit, often gaining favorable minutes down the stretch in tight contests.

In addition, Kyle Lowry has also assumed the alpha dog role in Houston, dethroning Martin’s previously unquestioned reputation as the Rockets’ offensive heavyweight and best chance at an All-Star invitation. Lowry’s ascension is probably a hit to Martin’s pride, and has definitely taken a toll on his statistics.

Regardless, Martin’s true feelings are only fodder for media speculation, and he has shown nothing but class in his public comments. Martin always stresses the importance of team, his strong relationship with teammates, and emphasizes happiness with Houston’s winning ways over the importance of statistics. He is externally gracious, selfless, and, yes, still Houston’s leading scorer at just over 18 points per game.

But Martin is a man operating with the deflating knowledge that Rockets management thought somebody else would be more effective than him, and he could be shipped out for shinier goods at the whim of G.M. Daryl Morey. The NBA is a business, and Martin knows that, but just because he understands doesn’t mean it’s easier to digest. Can you blame him for his inconsistency and perceived unhappiness? He has to play hard each night knowing his team didn’t want him, and he knows if he doesn’t play well he is justifying Houston management’s belief. Sounds like pressure.

Keep an eye on this story; it won’t disappear until after the March 15th trade deadline.