The Los Angeles Lakers looked like they made a pretty good deal when they were able to add Chris Kaman for the taxpayer’s mid-level exception of just $3.1 million for the upcoming season. The Lakers needed a big that could come in, know his role and complement Pau Gasol in the frontcourt — but that’s something Kaman had trouble doing alongside Dirk Nowitzki, according to Mavs’ owner Mark Cuban.
Cuban joined Norm Hitzges on KTCK-AM in Dallas over the weekend and, when asked about how bad Dirk and Kaman were on the defensive side of the ball, Dallas’s owner said it was harder for him to watch Kaman play next Dirk when the Mavs had the basketball.
I don’t think it was so hard to put Dirk and Chris on the floor together defensively. I think where we ran into problems … we couldn’t convince Chris not to put the ball on the floor. When Chris would just pick and pop, he was a top-five shooter in the NBA. Dirk and Chris playing pick and pop, pick and roll was lethal. No team could stop it. Chris had his own way of doing things, and that created some issues. It just didn’t work. Dirk and Brandan Wright played a lot better together. That’s one of the reasons we went hard after Samuel Dalembert. Sam is much more of a rebounder and he’s also a good shot blocker and rim defender.
Cuban is known for saying pretty much whatever comes to his mind, but it’s especially humorous when the business owner takes one of his players to task regarding their basketball ineptitude. His skewering of Kaman for dribbling too much is a bit overblown, though, when looking at the raw statistics provided by Synergy Sports Technology.
47 percent of Kaman’s offensive possessions came when he was either posting up or the roll man in pick-and-roll situations, according to Synergy, compared to just 16 percent coming from spot-up shooting or isolation plays for the 7-foot, 265-pound center out of Central Michigan. That would seem to discredit Cuban’s quote, but we can go a bit further: Kaman took 159 catch-and-shoot jumpers compared to just 29 jumpers off the dribble last season — meaning, if he was putting the ball on the floor, at least he wasn’t throwing up too many ill-advised shots after he did decide he can dribble.
There are plenty of reasons why Kaman wasn’t the greatest fit next to Dirk — and yes, a decent amount of those reasons came on the defensive end — but the fact that he occasionally put the ball on the floor wasn’t the primary problem.