Chris Kaman Leaving L.A.? Five Options for the Clippers

John LigonCorrespondent IJuly 15, 2008

What? You didn't really believe he'd stick around with the Clippers now that the Camby-man's coming to town, did you?

The two players largely duplicate each other's skill set.  Each is a defensive presence that has difficulty producing his own offense.

While some Clippers fans dream of a pairing that would lead to them having a tandem that would average 26 rebounds and 6.5 blocks per game, that simply would not happen. 

Invariably, the two players would get in each other's way on defense, take away rebounds and blocks from each other, and neither would be utilized optimally.

In addition, sophomore Al Thornton's natural position is power forward, rather than playing as a SF alongside Camby and Kaman. 

Therefore, it only makes sense that Kaman's going to be on the move very soon to give the Clippers some help at other positions. 

Keep in mind that Kaman is coming off of a fantastic year in which he averaged 15.7 PPG, 12.7 RPG, and 2.77 BPG.  On a team other than the Clippers, those are potentially All-Star numbers. Considering he's still only 26 years old, he should command a major player in a deal.

Just a note: I haven't done the math, but I assume that after absorbing Camby's salary and signing Baron Davis, the Clippers are back in the situation where they can't simply take back a ridiculous amount of salary for while not giving up any in return anymore.  If that's not the case, then there are probably several other interesting trades that could happen instead.

Here are some of the best deals I can come up with, in no particular order:


Trade No. 1: Kaman in a sign-and-trade with the Chicago Bulls for Ben Gordon and Cedric Simmons

There has to be an odd man out in the Bulls' backcourt, and Gordon may be the easiest to move.

Kaman would give the Bulls a solid inside presence to pair with Derrick Rose and clear up minutes in the backcourt for Thabo Sefolosha, Larry Hughes, and Kirk Hinrich.  Meanwhile, Gordon would give Baron Davis a strong running mate in L.A., while of course the departure of Kaman would open up space for Camby to be at his best.

Simmons would only be included assuming that his contract was needed to get the salaries to match.


Trade No. 2: Kaman to the Detroit Pistons for Richard Hamilton

Honestly, I looked hard at Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince, but finally decided on Hamilton for a variety of reasons.

First of all, Hamilton once again gives the Clippers a legitimate second option alongside Davis.  In fact, Hamilton would likely be exceptional in that backcourt considering how good he is playing off the ball, which would suit Davis fine seeing as Davis figures to be the primary option.

Second, Hamilton has an obvious replacement in Detroit, with Rodney Stuckey able to slide into the starting lineup alongside Billups.  Though in a perfect world, the Pistons would like to move Wallace and simply plug Kaman into the starting lineup next to Jason Maxiel or Antonio McDyess, the Clippers are unlikely to have much interest in Wallace, considering his age.

This would create a glut of big men for the Pistons between Wallace, Maxiel, McDyess, and Kaman, without even mentioning reserves Amir Johnson and Cheik Samb. 

But Joe Dumars has made it no secret that he's interested in making changes to improve his team, and if he could later swing a deal that moves Wallace and leaves them with the younger Kaman in the middle, I think he'd do it in a heartbeat.


Trade No. 3: Kaman to the Indiana Pacers for Mike Dunleavy

Did you realize that Mike Dunleavy scored 19.1 PPG last year on 47.6 percent shooting, including 42.4 percent on three-pointers?  Neither did I.

Both players had breakout years this past season—and both teams also have someone new coming in to potentially take their place, with the Pacers drafting Brandon Rush.

Once again, as is a recurring theme with many of these trades, Dunleavy would give the Clippers a strong second option to pair with Davis.  How Dunleavy would react to being coached by his dad is another story, but on paper this would make some sense for them.

Bringing in Kaman would give the Pacers a core of Kaman, Rush, T.J. Ford, Danny Granger, Troy Murphy, and Roy Hibbert.  Hibbert looks like a strong backup, and a frontcourt rotation of Kaman, Murphy, and Hibbert would be quite juicy in the Eastern Conference.


Trade No. 4: Kaman and Tim Thomas to the Miami Heat for Shawn Marion

Okay, you knew this was coming.

Marion is an enigmatic player.  Though he had an off year last season, he still has undeniable All-Star talent, and he'll be playing hard for a new contract next season.

Furthermore, Marion is well-suited for the fast-paced attack that the Clippers may try to implement now that they have Davis on board.  A  running attack of Davis, Marion, Thornton, Camby, and Cuttino Mobley would be fearsome indeed.

The worst-case scenario? Marion's deal is, of course, expiring—so if he doesn't work out, they can always let his salary come off the books and take another swing at free agency.

For Miami, it relieves their glut of power forwards—Marion, Michael Beasley and Udonis Haslem.  Furthermore, it gives them a defensive presence to put next to Beasley's scoring in the post.  A core of Dwayne Wade, Beasley, and Kaman would be solid in the East.


Trade No. 5: Kaman, Thomas, Brevin Knight and Cuttino Mobley to the Knicks for Zach Randolph and Jamal Crawford

Okay, let me say that this would be a stupid, stupid trade for the Clippers.  No matter how many double-doubles Randolph churns out, he is a perennial good-player-on-a-bad-team type of guy.

However, he still averages 18 and 10, so he's not the worst deal in the world.  He would give the Clippers a low-post threat on offense to pair with Davis, while Camby can cover up his defensive deficiencies.

Furthermore, Crawford is actually an attractive player.  He'd give the Clippers another legit 20-point scorer next to Davis, so on paper the deal doesn't seem so bad for the Clippers.

Of course, paper and reality are two different players.  I can't say how much I would never, ever want to see Zach Randolph on my team, no matter how good his stats may be.

For the Knicks, can anyone guess when Thomas' and Mobley's contracts are up?  To the two of you that didn't say 2010, you clearly haven't been paying attention to LeBron James' contract situation.

Knight's contract expires after this season.  After that, it will take one more small contract to make the deal work, so the Clippers could sign-and their free agents to a one year deal to make it work.

This move lets the Knicks outright shed Crawford's contract, which isn't up until 2011.  While Kaman's deal runs well past 2010, this at least is a step in the right direction, as it would likely be much easier to try and move Kaman around the trading deadline than it would be to ever try and move Randolph himself for deals expiring in the next two years.


Wrap up

These are just the trades that spring straight to mind in the aftermath of the Camby deal.  I'm sure there are more interesting, more elaborate deals that someone could come up with, but I think that in principle these deals make some sense for both teams.

In any case, while I can't say with certainty where Chris Kaman will call home next season, I feel fairly confident in saying that with Marcus Camby coming in, it won't likely be Los Angeles.