Update (07/08/13): Chris Kaman has agreed to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers. This could wind up being a huge blown opportunity. The Heat keep frustrating me because they keep having chances to end their big man problem (Andray Blatche, Nikola Vucevic) but refuse to do so.
Chris Kaman is apparently available for the mini mid-level exception. Interested?
Several NBA teams have expressed interest in the true seven-foot center, some with significant cap room, but Kaman and the Los Angeles Lakers are said to have a “growing mutual interest.”
The Lakers will have a team salary well in excess of the luxury tax threshold next season and, according to salary cap rules, can therefore only offer the smaller mid-level exception – the same one available to the Miami Heat.
For the Heat, and owner Micky Arison, this could be a true test. Mike Miller is all but gone via the amnesty waiver provision, an unfortunate victim of the realities of a new collective bargaining agreement seemingly designed to break this team apart. The question now becomes: Will the Heat redeploy (at least a portion of) the savings to fill an unquestioned need, or will they pocket it?
The Heat is coming off its most dominant regular season ever, racking up its highest win total ever in the process (66), but its lack of size became a huge issue in the playoffs, against the frontcourts of the Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs. The Heat has a tendency to make average centers look like All-Stars, and All-Stars look like much younger versions of their Hall-of-Fame selves.
While the team has openly embraced the small-ball philosophy that has garnered it two straight NBA titles, don’t let that confuse you. It is a philosophy born out of necessity; the Heat’s roster has essentially dictated the approach. For as much as Pat Riley has extolled the virtues of a position-less basketball system, he would surely (and has “feverishly” tried to) end its existence, if only he could find someone to adequately fill the role.
It seems ironic, then, that the man who could potentially do so, if only the Heat were to register an interest, nearly became the face of the franchise a decade ago. Riley nearly drafted Kaman with the fifth overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, before being forcibly restrained by his scouting staff from screaming his name into the microphone on draft day. The Heat wound up selecting Marquette guard Dwyane Wade, while Kaman was selected by the Los Angeles Clippers with the No. 6 pick.
After eight years with the Clippers, highlighted by an All-Star 2009-10 campaign, Kaman has sort of flittered around the league for the last couple of seasons – spending one forgettable year in New Orleans after serving as a cog in the Chris Paul trade, followed by another forgettable year in Dallas dealing with a lack of playing time. But don’t let that fool you into diminishing the weight of his talent. His value belies his perception. Read more…