It has been a strange year for Hornets center Chris Kaman. The club seemed set on moving the big man in late January and excused him from team activities as General Manager Dell Demps combed the league for a trade. To his surprise, finding a quality haul for the one-time All-Star proved to be difficult. After a little more than a week, the Hornets brought Kaman back from hiatus and reportedly shut down trade talks.
However, as we've heard all week, New Orleans still hopes to find a suitor for Kaman and will showcase him in order to drum up interest. The Pacers and Rockets have been linked to the 29-year-old and appear to have the most interest.
Houston seems like a solid fit for Kaman as they would like to add more size to their lineup. Trouble is, the young pieces that they would be willing to part with aren't terribly exciting. Former top eight picks in the 2009 draft Hasheem Thabeet and Jordan Hill would give the Hornets flexibility with expiring contracts but are still extremely raw. Guard Jonny Flynn could also be in play but the Syracuse product hasn't looked like the same player since undergoing hip surgery prior to last season.
Demps & Co. are said to be looking for one solid young player or a quality draft pick for Kaman but his $14MM salary (though expiring) makes finding such a deal difficult. The Hornets also want to avoid taking back cumbersome deals that extend beyond 2011/12.
Will the Hornets find the deal that they're in search of? That's likely up to Kaman himself. The center saw action in two games since returning to the team before sitting out last night's loss to the Blazers with a tweaked ankle. For the Hornets to land a first-round pick or a talent with upside, Kaman has to show that he's ready to regain some of his 2009/10 form.
One team to keep an eye on is the Cavs, who have three extra future first-round picks and a lack of depth at the center position behind Anderson Varejao, who suffered a wrist injury on Friday. Antawn Jamison's expiring $15MM contract would make the numbers work, but the 35-year-old has looked especially sharp as of late.
If he can produce and stay healthy, the Hornets might be able to finagle an expiring contract and first-round pick from a center-starved team. If he can't, New Orleans just might opt to hang on to Kaman and put that extra cap room to use over the summer.