Portland Trail Blazers: Chris Kaman Agrees To Deal

Jan 8, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Chris Kaman (9) drives to the basket around Houston Rockets power forward Terrence Jones (6) during the fourth quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 8, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Chris Kaman (9) drives to the basket around Houston Rockets power forward Terrence Jones (6) during the fourth quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports /

Late Thursday night, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! was the first to report that Chris Kaman and the Portland Trail Blazers had come to an agreement on a two-year deal worth close to $10 million. The deal is actually said to be for two years and $9.8 million with the first year being fully guaranteed at $4.8 million with only $1 million of the second year guaranteed.

In essence, if things don’t work out with Kaman then Portland can cut their losses next season and it won’t kill their cap space.

The deal cannot become official until the free agent moratorium is lifted on July 10 and unless this turns into a trade, then the Blazers will be using their mid-level exception to sign Kaman. This leaves only their bi-annual exception to make any additional moves in free agency.

Shortly after the deal was announced by Wojnarowski, we got this tweet from Kaman himself:

Clearly, Kaman did not enjoy his single season with the Los Angeles Lakers and he is looking forward to a new start in Portland with Terry Stotts & Co. Kaman appeared in only 39 games last season due partially to injury and partially because it simply wasn’t a good fit for him in the style of offense that then-coach Mike D’Antoni runs.

Even given the rough year Kaman averaged 10.4 points and 5.9 rebounds in only 18.9 minutes played. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of Portland landing this veteran center.


The first thing this does for Portland is add depth. I think it’s safe to say that everyone knows just how blatantly woeful the Blazers’ bench production was last season, and backup center might have been the least helpful in terms of statistics.

Joel Freeland and Meyers Leonard shared time as the backup center and neither one really did enough to stake their claim to the spot — hence general manager Neil Olshey feeling the need to go out and nab a former All-Star in Chris Kaman this offseason.

Kaman is going to be able to spell Robin Lopez and LaMarcus Aldridge when needed, so that their minutes stay more reasonable, and they can be fresh come playoff time. Last season Aldridge averaged the most minutes played on the team at 36.2 while Lopez played 31.8.

While both had career seasons, those number could certainly stand to come down — especially for Aldridge. If either one of the aforementioned players has to miss any length of time due to injury, then Kaman is capable of stepping in and being a capable starter while they are out.

Kaman started 13 games last season and in those contests averaged 13.8 points and 8.5 rebounds and finished the year with a PER of 17.1 — higher than any Blazer coming off the bench last season.

Though not super nimble or quick on  his feet, Kaman will also add some much-needed defense to the Blazers squad. Kaman averaged 1.0 blocks per game last year even though he only played 18.9 minutes per game — the only Blazer to average more than 1.0 blocks per game last year was Robin Lopez at 1.7.

He is able to guard both the power forward and center position, though he does struggle with stretch 4s and centers who can step out and knock down a jumper.


Unfortunately, this signing is going to take away some minutes from Robin Lopez and that just stinks. Lopez was such a welcomed surprise last season and the RipCity faithful simply fell in love with the Californian with crazy hair.

The other con here as far as minutes go is this move all but confirms that Meyers Leonard will be supplanted firmly on the bench this season, yet again. Sure Leonard has had his struggles but it sure does seem like the Blazers are giving up on the kid a little early in my estimation.

However, given the success in the 2013-14 season the Blazers’ front office has to ensure that they continue to add pieces so that the keep moving in the right direction.

The other major downside to this deal for me (even given the fact that only $1 million is guaranteed in year two) is that they used pretty much the entire mid-level exception (set at $5.305 million per Larry Coon) and I think they could have maybe used it more wisely. Maybe it was a pipe dream, but I think that a strong pitch might have lured Shawn Marion from the Mavericks and they could have thrown the full MLE at him and gotten a more versatile player.

As it stands Kaman will come in and work hard to make sure he gets more minutes and can help a winning team again. Shortly after the signing Kaman spoke with Joe Freeman of Oregon Live regarding his role with his new team.

"“I wanted to go somewhere where people know me, know what kind of guy I am and what I’m capable of. This is a good opportunity for me to show that. I’m ready to do whatever is called upon me. I’m a utility guy. I don’t think I’m a superstar at any one thing, but I’m a well-rounded basketball player and I have a lot of knowledge of the game.”"

Chris Kaman is certainly saying all of the right things so far, but most guys do when they’re excited about a new opportunity and a fresh start. I think Kaman will win over Blazers’ fans pretty fast once the season starts because he played with a fire and tenacity that Portland really needs off the bench.

Also — you can’t help but love his Twitter game! I leave you with these gems that were posted shortly after the deal was announced.