Chris Kaman could be an option for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The team needs a big body to protect the rim and score inside in order to remain contenders.
Aside from the Golden State Warriors potential addition of the 7-foot, 270 pound McGee, the Indiana Pacers have added 6-foot-10, 289 pound Al Jefferson, the Detroit Pistons already employ 6-foot-11, 279 pound Andre Drummond. The Cavaliers gave up two first-round draft picks for 7-foot-1, 275 pound Timofey Mozgov because they needed players to defend the rim and bang with these true centers on a nightly basis.
As it stands, the Cavs centers average out to 6-foot-9, 245 pounds. There’s a big problem in Cleveland, the centers just aren’t big enough. There is a stop-gap solution for the team though.
7-foot, 260 pound Chris Kaman has averaged 1.3 blocks per game despite a decreasing role as he ages. Kaman, the 6th overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft and a draft classmate of first overall pick LeBron James, has remained a productive player on both ends of the court after coming into the league as a talented low-post scorer.
In terms of physical profile, low-post ability, and rim-protection Kaman is a fit for the Cavs. At 34, Kaman isn’t looking for any long-term or lucrative deals, so financially he’s a fit as well.
Lastly, the veteran is likely in his last season. Having always been a positive locker room presence, Kaman’s work ethic and professionalism will be an intangible fit for the team along with his off-beat but endearing personality.
When Kaman came into the league, he was known as a player who was dominant as a low-post scorer, rebounder, rim-protector and athlete after his days at Central Michigan. However, once he was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers, the team realized that Kaman was as talented as advertised. While playing with the trio of Quentin Richardson, Corey Maggette and Elton Brand, Kaman showed flashes of dominance and only needed a couple of years to be a consistent player in the frontcourt.
However, he was always too turnover prone and injury prone to be relied upon as a maximum contract player. For that reason, and especially as he ages, Kaman has long been undervalued outside of Portland.
In 2005-06, Kaman averaged 11.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game for the 47-35 Clippers. In the playoffs, the Clippers were one game away from reaching the Western Conference Finals before losing to Steve Nash, Shawn Marion and the Phoenix Suns.
A couple of years later in 2007-08 season, at 25 and in the start of the basketball prime, Kaman averaged 15.7 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game for an underachieving 23-59 Clippers squad, though he only managed to play in 56 games.
At 27, and fully into his peak stage, Kaman averaged 18.5 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game in his lone All-Star season.
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In one-year stints with the New Orleans Hornets, Clippers and Dallas Mavericks, Kaman remained a consistent producer though he began to lose his athleticism. The last two seasons, with the Portland Trail Blazers, Kaman has been a veteran presence with the same all-around talent just a role that shrank after LaMarcus Aldridge departed for the San Antonio Spurs and the Trail Blazers went all-in with their youth movement.
Now, Kaman is a seemingly forgotten veteran talent. A relic of the days when big men were expected to have both great footwork to score from the low-block and great size to protect the rim.
Kaman provides the size and two-way play at the position that would replace Mozgov’s, whereas Chris Andersen has the rim-protection ability of Mozgov, but isn’t the same hulking presence in the paint. On the defensive end, Kaman’s role is simply to bang with the big bodies in the paint for about 10 minutes per game. This role is invaluable to the Cavaliers success.
On the offensive end, Kaman’s ability to score from the low-post adds to the teams ability to let Kevin Love and LeBron James be their versatile selves. A frontcourt trio of LeBron, Love, and Kaman has defensive length, can do some serious work from the low-block and has enough perimeter shooting to keep defenses honest.
As LeBron and Love sit, Kaman is the lone player who can score from the post, but in adding another player with low-post abilities the team’s roster makeup is more balanced.
The free agent pool of big-man talent is drying up quickly. For the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kaman is a low-cost, low-risk, high-reward option at center.