Chris Kaman's Poor Fit with Lakers Makes Big Man Ultimate Trade Target

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent IDecember 16, 2013

Nov 5, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Chris Kaman (9) waits for play to resume against the Dallas Mavericks during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeated the Lakers 123-104.  Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Stop me if you've heard this one before: A back-to-the-basket big man is unhappy with his role in Mike D'Antoni's system. 

Add center Chris Kaman to that list of big men who have grown frustrated in the system of the offensive-minded coach. 

Since playing five minutes against the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 17, the 31-year-old center has appeared in just one game. That was a 12-minute run in a blowout loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Dec. 13.

He scored nine points in those 12 minutes and then didn't get off the bench for the Lakers' next game.

His inactivity hasn't been all due to coach's decisions. Kaman has a history of back issues, and as ESPN's Ramona Shelburne points out, he was hurting physically after tweaking his back during a practice a "few weeks ago." 

He is back to health and ready to go now, however, yet he remains a fixture on the bench. Meanwhile, second-year center Robert Sacre has picked up at least 10 minutes in six of the last seven games.   

SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 6: Robert Sacre #50 of the Los Angeles Lakers in a game against the Sacramento Kings on December 6, 2013 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading an
Rocky Widner/Getty Images

For the record, and any interested parties, I am looking for a $3.2 million annual salary for watching every Lakers game from the best seat in the house. 

Kaman's frustration, however, is understandable.  The 7'0", 265-pound veteran has had an up-and-down career, but his solid defense, decent post game and good rebounding have always been worthy of playing time.

In 16.8 minutes per game this year with the Lakers, he is averaging 8.3 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the floor. Those per-minute numbers are what we should expect from Kaman. 

For his career, he is averaging 11.7 points and 7.9 rebounds in 28.5 minutes per game. 

Those numbers aren't enough to get him off the bench ahead of the likes of Sacre, who, in 16.6 minutes per game this month, is averaging 6.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. 

To his credit, Kaman doesn't appear intent on becoming a cancer to his team. Shelburne passed along this comment from the center: "It's absolutely not what I was looking for. It's not really in my control. I just try to keep working hard and be ready if the time comes. And if it doesn't, then it just wasn't meant to be."

In that same article, Kaman admits that he has been given no indication that the Lakers are looking to trade him. I have to believe that is a rather hollow stance by the Lakers, however. 

It would be foolish for the Lakers not to look for a deal for Kaman. 

Los Angeles is just 11-12 in the tough Western Conference. For all of his offensive genius, D'Antoni has the Lakers putting up just the 14th-most points in the NBA. This team could use more shooting, youth and athleticism. 

It is also, as Shelburne points out, $7.8 million over the luxury tax. 

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 08:  Mike D'Antoni of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to a call during the game against the Toronto Raptors at Staples Center on December 8, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees th
Harry How/Getty Images

Kaman is clearly not a part of D'Antoni's plans, and his one-year, $3.2 million contract is little more than wasted money at this point, but that modest salary and expiring deal should make it easy to find him a new home. 

Kaman can play a role as an inside presence in the NBA. He has value to plenty of teams in the league, and the Lakers have very little need for him at this point.

All of this combines to tell me that Kaman will be shipped out before this season is over.