Chris Kaman of the New Orleans Hornets did not attend Friday night’s stunning 93-67 trouncing of the Orlando Magic, and general manager Dell Demps released a statement saying the team is actively trying to trade the 7-foot center with an expiring $14.03 million contract.
“We had a conversation with Chris and expressed that the Hornets are going to go in a different direction. We mutually decided for a number of reasons that we are not going to play Chris as we pursue a trade,” Demps said. “Chris has been the ultimate professional during this process and we thank him for the way he has handled the situation.”
Any eventual trade will have to pass muster with the league office, which owns the Hornets and wants to make the franchise as attractive as possible for a potential buyer.
That means the Hornets will be seeking at least one draft pick, a player on an expiring contract and a young prospect.
Here are three trades that would make sense for both teams:
Kaman to the Houston Rockets for Hasheem Thabeet, Johnny Flynn, Patrick Patterson, Jordan Hill and the New York Knicks’ 2012 first-round draft pick. When the Chris-Paul to the Lakers trade was still alive, the league office was insisting that the Rockets include Patterson in the deal. The Rockets did not want to surrender four top-tier players to acquire Pau Gasol, and the trade died. But Patterson is a spare part, Thabeet is an uberbust, Hill is superfluous and Flynn is a former Top 5 pick. The real prize in this deal is the Knicks’ pick, which could be a lottery pick if New York’s freefall continues. Adding Kaman would give the Rockets a big man rotation of Samuel Dalembert, Kaman, Luis Scola and rookie Chandler Parsons. Play those guys along with Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin and Chase Budinger, and that ain’t a bad team.
Kaman to the San Antonio Spurs for Richard Jefferson, Danny Green, James Anderson, $3 million and the Spurs’ No. 1 pick in 2012. Jefferson is owed $21 million for the next two seasons, and the Hornets could not amnesty him. Green is this year’s version of George Hill but could be replaced in the rotation by rookie Cory Joseph (a 41 percent 3-point shooter in college) and/or rookie Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs would take a luxury tax hit, but owner Peter Holt has paid it in the past and won’t have to worry about it next year with Tim Duncan’s $21.3 million salary coming off the cap.
Kaman to the New Jersey Nets for Mehmet Okur, Damion James, $3 million, Houston’s 2012 first-round draft pick and the Nets’ own 2013 pick (lottery protected). The Nets are not going to give up any of their young assets (e.g. MarShon Brooks), but the Rockets’ pick (top 14 protected through 2016) could give the Hornets three first-rounders (their own, the Timberwolves’ and the Houston’s), and the Hornets would take a chance on James recovering from a season-ending foot surgery and being a contributor next year (he will be a restricted free agent in the summer). Kaman could make the Nets a true playoff contender, now that they have moved within just one game of eighth place in the East. Since he comes off the cap at the end of the year, the Nets could still pursue their dream scenario of signing Dwight Howard to play with Deron Williams, Brooks and Lopez (and the Nets’ own 2012 No. 1 pick) when the franchise moves to Brooklyn next season.