Chris Kaman discusses the perils of playing on a one-year contract

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As the Lakers rounded out their veteran roster with a few key free agents this summer, they targeted experienced players who could still produce, but who for one reason or another were willing to sign on for one-year deals.

Chris Kaman was one of those, a 10-year veteran seven-footer who can put up more than respectable numbers in the scoring and rebounding categories, but who is below average defensively and has struggled with injuries over the past three seasons.

It takes a unique player in a unique situation to play out a one-year deal successfully, and the Lakers feel that Kaman is up to the task. He’s been through it before, and explained the reasons why it can be tough for players to perform under this set of circumstances.

From Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles:

“I’ll be honest. It’s a tough thing to do,” said new Lakers center Chris Kaman, who experienced a similar situation in Dallas last season, as they lined up their books for a run at Dwight Howard by assembling a group of players on one-year contracts.

“You’ve got the opportunity to play one year and you could play really well, or you could play really bad. You could fit in great, or you could not fit in. You could get hurt or you could stay healthy. There’s just so many things that can happen, and the biggest one is that you’re on a one-year deal and you’re worried about it the whole time and it stresses you out.

“But you’ve got to just play basketball. That’s what I’ve been doing for 10 years and that’s what I’m trying to focus on doing now.”

Kaman’s longevity in the league, along with his more than $73 million career earnings to this point, likely won’t make any of those things he mentioned an issue for him personally.

But the Lakers are loaded with guys in the final year of their respective contracts. In addition to Kobe Bryant (who is all but guaranteed another deal, with the the only questions being years and dollars), there’s Pau Gasol, Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Jordan Hill, Wesley Johnson and Jordan Farmar who are all in the last year of guaranteed deals.

That’s a lot of guys who, as Kaman suggested, have a lot to think about as the season progresses.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: I’ve never seen injury like Kawhi Leonard’s

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Gregg Popovich is a basketball lifer.

He’s the NBA’s most experienced active head coach. Before that, he was the Spurs’ general manager. Before that, he was an NBA assistant. Before that, he was a college head coach and assistant. Before that, he was a college player. Before that, he was a youth player.

The San Antonio coach has seen everything.

Except the right quadriceps tendinopathy suffered by Kawhi Leonard, whom Popovich said more than a week would return “sooner rather than later.” Yet, Leonard still hasn’t played this season.

Popovich, via Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

“Never, never,” Popovich said when asked whether he has seen such a condition hampering one of his players. “What’s really strange is that [point guard] Tony [Parker] has the same injury, but even worse. They had to go operate on his quad tendon and put it back together or whatever they did to it. So to have two guys, that’s pretty incredible. I had never seen it before those guys.”

“I keep saying sooner rather than later,” Popovich said jokingly. “It’s kind of like being a politician. It’s all baloney, doesn’t mean anything.”

The 26-year-old Leonard is one of the NBA’s biggest on-court stars. He might be the league’s best defender, and he has built himself into an offensive force. The Spurs (11-7) have fared fine without him so far, but they’ll need him to accomplish their main goals – this year and beyond.

Hopefully, Leonard’s health is better than it sounds here, because Popovich’s answer sure isn’t encouraging.

Tim Hardaway Jr. calls fallen ref safe rather than defend shot (video)

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The Knicks went on a 28-0 run.

They earned the right to showboat late in their win over the Raptors last night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. called a ref, who slipped on the baseline, safe rather than contest Serge Ibaka‘s 3-pointer. Perfection!

Luc Mbah a Moute sets modern record at +57 in Rockets’ win over Nuggets

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Luc Mbah a Moute is a quietly good player.

He’s an effective and versatile defender. Offensively, he shoots 3-pointers well enough to score efficiently and spread the floor. Most of all, the 31-year-old just understands how to play and plays within himself. His teams tend to perform better when he’s on the floor.

That’s an understatement for Wednesday night.

In a 125-95 win, the Rockets outscored the Nuggets by a whopping 57 points in Mbah a Moute’s 26 minutes. That’s the best single-game plus-minus in the Basketball-Reference database, which dates back to the 2000-01 season. It tops Joe Smith’s +52 in a 2001 Timberwolves win over the Bulls, a 53-point game that also produced a +50 for Wally Szczerbiak and +48 for Terrell Brandon.

Mbah a Moute’s traditional stat line was impressive, though not overly so: 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting with four rebounds, four steals and an assist. He played well, contributing to winning in all the small ways he often does, and the Rockets happened to play excellently around him.

Now, Mbah a Moute tops the leaderboard in single-game plus-minus since 2000-01:

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Did Russell Westbrook get mad at Steven Adams for not taking potential triple-double-clinching shot? (video)

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Russell Westbrook chases triple-doubles.

That hardly makes him unique. He’s just close enough to the feat more often than other players, so he chases them more often.

But he still chases them.

Late in the Thunder’s 108-91 win over the Warriors last night, Westbrook was heading toward his final line of 34 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. His teammates shot off his passes on three of Oklahoma City’s final four possessions before he took a seat (including one assist). The exception came when he passed to Steven Adams, who passed rather than shoot – clearly upsetting Westbrook.

Was Westbrook mad because he missed his chance at a triple-double? Maybe.

Was Westbrook mad because Adams passed as the shot clock neared expiration? Maybe.

It could be both!

Watch Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry on Golden State’s bench. They clearly found something funny.