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.
“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.