Down in the Bayou, the NBA-owned New Orleans Hornets are reportedly trying to unload the recently acquired Chris Kaman. He is a decent center who can put the ball in the hoop who, until becoming a component of the Chris Paul trade, had played his entire career losing games as a Los Angeles Clipper.
It’s not so much that New Orleans has no use for the guy: he is a post threat and can rebound. It’s just that his play has fallen off since his All-Star year in 2009-10, he is a free agent this summer, the team isn’t exactly trying to make a playoff push this year, and with the similarly overpaid Emeka Okafor already on the roster, they likely have no interest in bringing him back next season. So If they can get something back for him rather than losing him at the end of the season for nothing, why not?
From the other front office’s perspective, the Pacers’ need for a guy like Kaman is obvious. Lou Amundson and Tyler Hansbrough have done a fine-enough job mopping up the back-up center minutes while Jeff Foster has been missing most of the season so far, but that plan will likely look a lot less appealing when the playoffs roll around and Jeff remains an injury risk.
According to Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune, the Indiana Pacers may actually be the leader to land Kaman and he writes: “A league source said Wednesday night that the Indiana Pacers, one of several other teams reportedly in the mix for Kaman, could, in fact, be the leading candidate for a swap. The Pacers apparently are looking for a backup to Roy Hibbert.”
The Pacers currently have $14.27 million in salary cap room and they could absorb Kaman’s $14 million cap number without sending a player to the Hornets.
What Pacers fans should be concerned about is what Indiana has to give up to get Kaman.
It’s possible that Indiana could sure up their front-court depth issues without giving up much. The Hornets would obviously want something back, but I can’t see Larry Bird giving up any of players New Orleans would covet (Tyler Hansbrough, George Hill, Paul George) unless this turned into a much more complex deal. Maybe Bird would give up a future draft pick and perhaps that would be enough. The Pacers are (I think) the only interested party that could just take the whole salary and it’s possible that simply not having to pay Kaman the bulk of the $14 million he is owed this year would be enough for whoever is making the personnel/fiscal decisions in New Orleans.
We’ll see. But the addition of Kaman, as a half-year rental, does not strike me as anything worth giving up an significant asset for. You’re probably not going to win a title this year with or without him. And while it is understandable to want to push this season as far as you possibly can, the ultimate mission of this front-office should be building a team that could truly contend in 2013 and 2014, not giving up assets in an attempt to try to win two or three more playoff games in 2012.