Chris Kaman is a nice addition to the Los Angeles Lakers. In this case, the word “nice” is a polite way of saying “poor consolation prize after losing Dwight Howard.” Perhaps the Lakers would have signed Kaman as a backup anyway, even if Howard would have returned to Los Angeles.
Now, the possibility is moot because Howard is with the Houston Rockets and the Lakers are faced with going into the 2013-14 season with many unanswered questions. Still, the Lakers have to start somewhere, and Kaman does give them one reasonable piece. Not an exciting piece, but every contract can’t be glamorous.
Truthfully, Kaman was brought to Los Angeles as a backup center. At Kaman’s age (31), his best years are behind him. Yes, he could probably still start. Depending on the health of Pau Gasol next year, Kaman might find himself in the starting lineup at times.
That said, let’s be honest here. Fans should not get too excited about this signing, and chances are it won’t take much convincing for the faithful followers to contain their joy. Kaman is yet another older player that is likely going to be there on a temporary basis. The price is right ($3.2 million), but this is not a move for the future unless we are talking about minimizing long-term commitments to older players.
Kaman played in 66 games in 2012-13, and he started 52. No one would ever mistake this guy for a durable player given his injury history in the NBA. He has talent, and Kaman has had a nice career in the NBA. However, he is not going to be the second part of a one-two punch with Kobe Bryant. It probably wouldn’t shock anyone if this were Kaman’s last contract, though experienced seven-footers do tend to stick around.
For the Lakers to be relevant in the Western Conference, they need another star. That star is most likely not coming this season, so Los Angeles will need to hope that Bryant comes back strong and that the remaining Lakers can stay healthy. That includes Kaman, who must stay on the floor and provide whatever inside presence his body will allow.
On paper a lineup of Bryant, Steve Nash and Gasol could still do some damage. Kaman provides a level of veteran depth to a squad that still has interesting pieces. Gasol and Kaman are a nice pair of centers. There is that word again. Nice. Notice I did not say “dominant.”
This is all assuming a best-case scenario, and if the Lakers can get 60 games of production out of Kaman, they will probably consider that to be a success. Kaman hasn’t played 82 games since he was a rookie. The last time he topped 70 games was in 2009-10 when he played and started in 76 games.
From a style standpoint, this move certainly does not make the Lakers any faster, but chances are that they weren’t going to have the athletes to play uptempo anyway. Why fight it? Therefore, Kaman isn’t really a good fit, but in reality, he probably is.