What has been reported for several days is now official, as the Los Angeles Lakers have signed free agent center Chris Kaman, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak.
Terms of the agreement were not released, but multiple media reports indicate the contract to be for one year at the NBA's "mini" mid-level exception of $3.2 million.
“We’re pleased to be able to add a big man of Chris’ caliber to the roster for the upcoming season,” said Kupchak. “He’s a versatile center who defends well, goes hard to the glass and can score both in the paint and from mid-range while also being a high character guy and solid locker room presence.”
The deal has three benefits for the Lakers in that it (1) provides a decent replacement for departed Dwight Howard; (2) comes at a cheap price; and (3) lasts for only one season, therefore allowing the team plenty of cap room for next year's free agent sweepstakes.
Make no mistake, Kaman is a vastly inferior player to Dwight Howard. He does not rebound as well as Howard, nor is he nearly the same shotblocker on the defensive end.
Moreover, the aging Kaman's best days are behind him, as his recent seasons have resulted in inconsistent production. A big reason for that up-and-down play has been injuries, as he has missed a significant number of games the last few years. Worse yet, there is no reason to believe that his bad luck with injuries will not continue.
Still, if there is one thing Kaman brings to the table, it is his ability to score. He has a nice face-up jumper out to 18-feet and can hit free throws far better than Howard.
He also has a decently refined post-up game, featuring effective jump hooks with both his right and left hands. In fact, the versatile Kaman, who shoots his jump shots right-handed, frequently prefers to use his lefty jump hook on the block.
Kaman, a 10-year NBA veteran out of Central Michigan University, appeared in 66 games (52 starts) with the Mavericks last season, averaging 10.5 points and 5.6 rebounds in a career-low 20.7 minutes, while shooting above .500 from the field (.507) for the third time in his career.
The Lakers could use Kaman as the starting center and put Pau Gasol back at his natural position at the 4. Both are skilled enough to post or face-up, and thus, could be used effectively together in high-low sets.
Of course, one issue with using Kaman as a starter would be the effect that the greater minutes would have on his injury-prone body.
The other big issue would be coach Mike D'Antoni's inability, or perhaps his unwillingness, to coach a twin towers-style lineup. Should D'Antoni opt for a smaller unit on the floor, expect Gasol to start at center and have the "Kaman Island" come off the bench.
Originally selected by the Clippers with the sixth overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, the 7-foot, 265-pound Kaman was named to the Western Conference All-Star team in 2010. A dual citizen of the United States and Germany, Kaman was also a member of the German National Team that competed at Eurobasket 2011 and the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
By Staff of The Daily Sports Herald and news services