Indiana Pacers: Why the Pacers Need to Trade for Chris Kaman

David DietzContributor IIIMarch 14, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 06:  Chris Kaman #35 of the New Orleans Hornets shoots the ball over Ty Lawson #3 of the Denver Nuggets at the New Orleans Arena on January 6, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  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 Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

If you are a Pacers fan, you are probably feeling pretty uneasy at the moment. Not because of the team's recent four-game slide, or the five-game losing streak before that, but the reasons behind them.

That the Pacers live and die by Roy Hibbert is not unexpected. After all, at 7'2'' he is one of the most physically imposing players in the league. Considering he is one of the best passing centers and has an ever expanding offensive repertoire, a lot is and should be expected of the fourth-year pro.

For most of the year, Hibbert has lived up to such expectations, having earned his first All-Star game roster spot as a reward for his offseason improvements.

But as of late, a troubling trend has emerged. One that developed last season and surely has the Pacers front office on pins and needles again this year. At 7'2'', Roy Hibbert has a challenge in keeping up his energy levels and has a tendency to fade down the stretch.

Last season, the NBA was abuzz after Hibbert's early season stats. Hibbert opened the season averaging Dwight Howard-like 18.3 points per game. 

Unfortunately for the Pacers, such numbers were short lived. By December his average had fallen to 10.9 PPG and by January it was under double digits at 9.5 PPG. His rebounding numbers suffered a similar downward trend.

Ever the hard worker, Hibbert was able to regain his form and pick his numbers back up. This offseason he again hit the gym daily to improve his consistency, vowing stay on the court longer and avoiding the midseason wall.

Unfortunately, once again, Hibbert may have hit it. After posting five impressive double-doubles in his first seven games, Hibbert has only managed eight double-doubles since, including none in the past eight games, his longest drought of the season.

For the Pacers, such a drop off in production should be a red flag. To challenge in the East, the Pacers clearly need Hibbert well-rested and playing his best ball.

When Hibbert scores 15 points or more, the Pacers are 11-4 as opposed to 13-12 when he doesn't. Similarly, when Hibbert grabs double figures in rebounds the Pacers are 15-3.

Therefore, in order to take the pressure off their big man and give him a rest, the Pacers must look to secure a trade. Louis Amundson has been playing well as of late, but at 6'9" he is not a true center and better options are available. 

One player in particular that would be a great fit behind Hibbert is New Orleans Hornets center Chris Kaman. Averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds over the last 5 games, Chris Kaman is on a tear and would be the perfect complement to Hibbert. He is big, tough and plays with the same aggressive physical style of the Pacer bigs.

More importantly, there wouldn't be much of a drop off when Kaman would enter and he could help relieve big Roy of both the physical and mental burden of anchoring the middle. The addition of Kaman would also allow Hibbert to be ready and rested come playoff time, increasing the likelihood of Hibbert being able to post early-season type numbers.

From the Hornets' perspective, many already speculated Kaman would be traded earlier in the season when New Orleans benched him indefinitely in an attempt to trade him. Thus, could Indiana put together the right package, it's likely that the Hornets would be more than willing to sign off on a deal. 

An offer such as a draft pick plus Amundson and A.J. Price's expiring contracts in return for the Hornets center, would go a long way towards beefing up Indiana's front line and playoff chances.