Hours after it was reported the San Antonio Spurs are interested in free agent forward Kenyon Martin, who is stuck in China waiting to be rescued by Jack Bauer, the Spurs may have a bigger target on their radar. ESPN’s Marc Stein is reporting the New Orleans Hornets are actively shopping center Chris Kaman.
Stein reports that Kaman, who was not at New Orleans Arena for the Hornets’ 93-67 victory over the Orlando Magic and has been informed by the team he will not dress while the team and Kaman’s representation look for a trade partner for the center.
“We’ve informed Chris that we are looking into possible trades and he was understanding about the situation,” Hornets GM Dell Demps said. “We’re working together on this.”
“Chris has been the ultimate professional since he joined us. In no way is this a disciplinary action. We had discussions about extending his current contract when he first came to the Hornets, but the organization decided to go in a different direction.”
Once that news broke, Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that the Rockets, Pacers, Jazz and Spurs were among the teams interested in Kaman. Woj also tweeted that the Hornets had previously been asking for an expiring contract, a draft pick AND a young piece. I would think that at this point they’d be happy with getting one of two of pieces in return.
The Spurs have a draft pick they can give up. They also have young players they could part with. But the only expiring contract they have is a guy named Tim Duncan. Chris Kaman makes $14 million this season, so that further complicates finding a trade partner for the Hornets. As Project Spurs’ resident ESPN Trade Machine wizard, I went ahead and plugged in some possible deals.
First things first, without involving a third team that had a ton of cap room, Richard Jefferson has to be involved in this deal. I know most Spurs fans would be completely OK with this, but the more important question is would New Orleans? With that in mind here’s what I came up with:
Chris Kaman for Richard Jefferson, Matt Bonner and Cory Joseph: I don’t think any fan would be devastated to see any of these three go, but it would take away two of the Spurs three best shooters and leave them without a back up point guard for the time being. I think the Spurs would work around that if it meant getting Kaman for at least a the rest of this season, not to mention the cap room they’ll get this summer. However, to do this you would have to convince the Hornets that Cory Joseph is a future starting point guard and convince them that Jefferson and Bonner’s shooting is worth taking on the extra $42 in payroll after this season. So unless Demps, a former Spurs assistant GM can’t find anything better or wants to do his old employer a solid, this one probably isn’t happening.
Chris Kaman for Richard Jefferson, James Anderson and Cory Joseph: This one is a little more palatable for the Hornets because they’re taking back way less payroll and get two young pieces in their backcourt. The Spurs would be trading a lot of their wing depth in Jefferson and Anderson and would in turn be relying on Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to be their small forwards for the rest of the season. You and I might be OK with this, not sure how OK with it Pop is. Warning, this next one might be tough for all of you to swallow.
Chris Kaman for Richard Jefferson, Cory Joseph and Danny Green: Yeah I know, Danny Green is the second coming Stephen Jackson without the crazy (or something), but this one might get it done. Joseph and Green especially are two guys who have shown they can be players in this league. Kaman is a proven low post scorer who can also hit an 18 foot jumper. The Spurs are also deep enough at the guard position that they could recover from Joseph and Green’s absence especially when Manu Ginobili and TJ Ford get back from injury. Hornets would also shave about three million bucks off their payroll this year as well.
Here’s why I would do any of these three trades. In Kaman you get a guy who can score from a lot of different places. This means you could play any combination of Duncan, Splitter and Kaman (with some DeJuan Blair sprinkled in) at any point in a game. They become better on defense simply because they have a guy who is a huge body who can rebound and defend the block. That’s three above average low post defenders not to mention three productive seven footers. And if it doesn’t work out the Spurs have managed to clear enough cap space for a max contract this coming summer, which gives them a ton of flexibility moving forward. Losing a Danny Green or Cory Joseph might be tough for some Spurs fans to swallow, but trust me, this is better in the short term and long term.