Chris Kaman’s NBA journey has brought him back to where it all began when he was drafted sixth overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in 2003.
Except, he is returning to L.A. to play with the Lakers. And he is interested in proving the Clippers wrong for trading him to the New Orleans Hornets in the Chris Paul deal.
“After all the years of service I put into that organization, not letting me know that something was going down … I found out off the TV. I thought that was a little unprofessional,” Kaman told the L.A. Times’ Mike Bresnahan. “But I’m just looking for a fresh start. I’m feeling pretty good here.”
After losing Dwight Howard to free agency when he bolted for the Houston Rockets, the Lakers were in need of another big man since Pau Gasol is 34 and coming off an injury-plagued season. The Lakers settled on Kaman, who may not command the same star power as Howard did but is a serviceable big man who won’t blow up the salary cap.
Kaman has only averaged 48 games per year the last three seasons, which is one of the reasons they got him so cheap (one year contract worth $3.1 million). He made $8 million last with Dallas.
He played in 66 games the Mavs, and played well despite limited minutes (20.7). He averaged 10.5 points per game and 5.6 rebounds, but project his stats — given 36 minutes per game — and he would have averaged 18.3 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks.
Depending on how he’ll be used, he could give the Lakers a good option at center next to Gasol if head coach Mike D’Antoni plays Pau at power forward. Kaman has looked good in preseason, averaging 11 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists in five games. So, playing the two 7-footers together could work. But knowing D’Antoni he’ll prefer a smaller lineup and go with a forward who can shoot threes.
Kaman has a year to make a good impression and possibly earn one last big contract. “It’s tough when you have a couple rough years, people forget about you a little bit,” he said. “I know that I’m capable of playing at this level with these guys. I’ve done it for 10 years.”
He definitely has all the motivation he needs to go out and have a good year. The wins and losses will take care of themselves. But, Kaman has another chance in the city where it all started and that’s more than a lot of players can hope for.
Darren Jacks is a regular contributor to OneManFastBreak.net. Follow him on Twitter @djroxalot.