You may have forgotten, but the Clippers have had a starting-level center in their back pocket all along. Chris Kaman has played just eight games this season for Los Angeles, but the once quasi-All-Star is apparently ready for his first NBA action since December 5th. Here’s what Kaman had to say on Twitter:
I will be getting back on the court tonight with limited minutes but it will feel good to play.
Works for me, and it should work for the Clippers. DeAndre Jordan is a fascinating player, but Kaman — when healthy and in-rhythm, which we won’t see until after the All-Star break at the very earliest — is a far more reliable center option. If L.A.’s short-term performance was of any consequence, then Kaman’s return would mean a great deal.
However, the Clippers have dropped in stock since Eric Gordon injured the wrist on his shooting hand, and any microscopic chance they once had at securing a playoff berth has dissipated. This year’s Clippers, with or without Kaman, are a lottery team. Thus, Kaman’s return is less about improving the Clippers’ interior and more about increasing the value of a trade chip. As our own Kurt Helin noted several weeks ago, Kaman has become a tradable commodity, and in their continued rebuilding efforts the Clippers would very much like to cash in on Kaman’s value.
The trade deadline inches closer and closer, and Kaman’s return coincides with L.A.’s last game before the All-Star break, a convenient time for general managers to engage in all kinds of trade discussions. I’m not sure how willing teams will be to take on the $12.7 million Kaman is owed next season (in that way, his situation parallels that of Antawn Jamison in Cleveland; both are interesting players for a contender to potentially acquire, but with a hefty price that extends beyond this season and into the new CBA), but competent centers who can provide interior scoring aren’t exactly stocked in convenience store aisles.
Kaman is undoubtedly a useful player, but teams will have to think long and hard about whether acquiring him is worth the potential price.