Carl Landry Injury: Will Chris Kaman See Greater Role for New Orleans Hornets?

Tom FirmeAnalyst IIFebruary 7, 2012

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 09:  Carl Landry #24 of the New Orleans Hornets and Chris Andersen #11 of the Denver Nuggets battle for a rebound at the Pepsi Center on January 9, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Chris Kaman might have been looking to simply get back into the rotation and play his normal role after the New Orleans Hornets placed him on the active list and removed him from the trade block. Now, with Carl Landry out for the next three to four weeks, as ESPN reported, Kaman could be looking at a greater role. Kaman might have to earn an expanded role, as he may have to work for it.

Landry injured his knee on Saturday against the Detroit Pistons. He and Jason Maxiell bumped knees, and the bump became a little more than a bump. Landry looks to miss nine to 13 games.

Playing in all 24 Hornets games before he was injured, Landry was a key frontcourt player. Landry received 23.9 minutes per game, the most among Hornets reserves. He was the first big man off the bench with Kaman on the inactive list.

Landry was among the leading Hornets on offense. He's second in scoring average (11.5 points per game) and third in field-goal percentage (46.7 percent) among players in the rotation. With 1.1 offensive win shares, Landry's offensive value is significant. Also, he has the highest usage rate among Hornets at 24 percent.

His scoring ability will be missed. The Hornets don't have any natural scorers. With Landry and Jarrett Jack, who has a sore knee, missing, the Hornets are without a third of their scoring.

Hopefully for the Hornets, Kaman will be fresh and dynamic in his return. Before going on the inactive list, he fared poorly. Kaman averaged 9.2 points and 6.6 rebounds in 22.7 minutes per game. He had been shooting a career-low 43.8 percent from the field.

Kaman is sharing time with Emeka Okafor, the first time in several years Kaman has had to share floor time with anyone. His struggle to adapt to fewer minutes has been apparent.

Now, Kaman must step up with Landry out. He'll have to play big up front, hitting shots and grabbing more rebounds than he had been. With Jack and Landry out, Kaman will have to toughen up and hit his shots on the inside.

If he can do that, he should earn close to 30 minutes per game with Landry out. The Hornets need help up front. Besides Landry, Jason Smith, who has started 12 games at power forward, went down with a concussion on Saturday. The Hornets will be counting on Kaman to pick up production and strengthen the frontcourt.

Landry's absence doesn't necessarily mean a delay in trading Kaman. The Hornets could still trade Kaman with Landry out. Besides, the Hornets have long since bowed out of contention. At this point, they're more concerned with preparing for the future.

Solid play by Kaman could earn the Hornets a couple of wins and a little more at the negotiating table when they try to trade him. Dell Demps and interested parties will surely be watching Kaman in the coming weeks.