He’s 7-feet-tall, almost 270 pounds, but it seems the one man that has stealthily slipped past the focus of blazer fans this summer has been Chris Kaman. The hunting and fishing-crazed behemoth is the only Blazer from the 2015-16 roster (with the exception of Cliff Alexander) who is yet to find a new home.
Portland currently has 16 men on its roster, so the chances of the big man playing for the Blazers in 2016-17 seems seriously unlikely. But if the former All-Star is not ready to hang up his oversized shoes and try his hand at coaching, which team might be in need of his services? There are still many out there who think he can still play, with a somewhat reliable jump shot and a massive frame to guard the paint. Just don’t ask him to dribble.
To help us narrow down options from 29, let’s assume – if he has a choice – that he is looking to go to a team in contention or just likely to make the playoffs. A franchise that would be willing to offer him the veteran minimum to mentor and play spot-up minutes. Let’s also rule out Dallas where it seems a younger version of the now mature, more settled father may have previously outworn his welcome.
In the West, it’d be fair to classify potential destinations as Golden State, San Antonio, the L.A. Clippers (where he spent the first eight years of his career), Memphis and further down the line Utah, Oklahoma City and Houston. In the East, there’s Cleveland, Boston, Indiana, Atlanta, Chicago and then maybe Detroit, Milwaukee and Miami.
That’s 15 teams.
Golden State & San Antonio
Let’s put a caveat on Golden State, which sparingly plays a traditional five, turning to Draymond Green to guard the middle for long stretches. The Warriors also have Zaza Pachulia, Anderson Varajao, rookie Damian Jones and maybe JaVale McGee. San Antonio just signed Pau Gasol and Dewayne Dedmon, while every Blazer fan's favorite Lamarcus Aldridge can also fill in. That’s a no for both.
Los Angeles Clippers
There might be some sentimentality for Kaman to return to the Clippers, the team that drafted him, made him an All-Star but ultimately dealt him and others in the Chris Paul trade. They already have DeAndre and rookie Diamond Stone, while they did bring in Marreese Speights (he shapes up more as a four). And while the Clippers also have 16 on the roster, you could definitely make a case for a return to Los Angeles. Possible.
Memphis, which splurged most of its salary cap on Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons, only has one true center, the oft-injured Marc Gasol. Brandon Wright can also fill in. However, pairing Gasol and Kaman together could make the Grizzlies the slowest big man (zombie) unit in the association. Possible.
Utah & Oklahoma City
It seems as if the young Jazz squad has an abundance of young bigs, as does Oklahoma City. No to both.
Houston already signed Nene, which is Brazilian for no way to the big K. No.
Moving to the east. Cleveland is intriguing. Aside from Tristan Thompson, who you could argue is actually a power forward, the Cavs only have LeBron disciple Chris "Birdman" Andersen. They also have an open roster spot but you could argue Andersen plays the same role Kaman would fulfill. There have also been lukewarm rumours about this possible destination. It makes some sense. Possible.
Boston has 18 on its roster and that includes the marquee signing of Al Horford as well as the smaller Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk. If the Cs could make a roster spot free, you could definitely see Kaman being of interest. Not out of the question.
Indiana could work with Kaman playing behind highly-touted rookie Myles Turner and Al Jefferson. Possible.
The Hawks have a glut of bigs, so no.
The Bulls are interesting for a couple of reasons. Bringing in Kaman would reunite him with former Blazers teammate Robin Lopez. And while Chicago has a glut of power forwards, losing Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah has left them relatively shallow at the five. If they were able to free up a roster spot this would make a lot of sense. Possible.
He could go home to Michigan to play for the Pistons but it seems the team already has Andre Drummond, Aron Baynes and big Boban Marjonovic. No.
Even if the Bucks manage to move Greg Monroe, Milwaukee seems like a poor fit for Kaman. They already have young bigs John Henson and Thon Maker and the recently signed Plumlee of the Miles variety. It’s not in the cards.
Finally it might shock many but Miami already has 19 players on its roster including the newly re-signed Hassan Whiteside and also Chris Bosh – if he does end up playing next year. Not likely.
So at this point, you’d have to say the most likely options are the Cavs, Clippers and Bulls with outside chances of Boston, Indiana and Memphis. That is assuming he chooses to go on. It would be great to see the man who was maligned on his arrival in the Pacific Northwest two years ago play on. However, if his body is calling it quits, I’ve no doubt there’d be room for Kaman on Terry Stotts’ coaching staff after the work he’s already done with Meyers and some of the other young Blazer bigs.
While this is not an appreciation thread, it’s important to look at some of his achievements:
- Drafted No. 6 out of Central Michigan in the famous 2003 LeBron draft.
- All Star in 2010 (Clippers)
- 18.5 points in 2009-10 (Clippers)
- 12.7 rebounds in 2007-08 (Clippers)
- 2.8 blocks in 2007-08 (Clippers)
- 2.1 assists in 2011-12 (New Orleans)
- German National team
What do you think? Is there a landing spot out there for the former All-Star big man who spent much of the last season mentoring Portland's young bigs?