In July, the Portland Trail Blazers signed free agent center, Chris Kaman, to a contract predicated on compliance as a backup to starting center Robin Lopez. This will be the first year of Kaman’s career that he willingly accepts a role on the bench.
Portland is actually a great place for Kaman to make this transition because Lopez does not require heavy minutes. The already minimal 31.7 minutes per game that Lopez averaged last season was a career high, and primarily reached because the Trail Blazers lacked a reliable backup after Joel Freeland suffered a right MCL sprain.
By that token, it would not be at all surprising to see Kaman play roughly 20 minutes each night this season, depending on what Head Coach Terry Stotts does with the other bigs. Most likely, Lopez will see a slight minute reduction, Freeland will be moved back to his natural position at power forward and Meyers Leonard will return to a regular DNP.
Kaman can be a tricky player to appease, but the Trail Blazers were upfront with their intentions upon signing him and they seem to be on the same page. This was not the case last year in Los Angeles, where Kaman grew frustrated when Mike D’Antoni played him behind Jordan Hill and Robert Sacre. Nor was it the case in Dallas the year before, when Elton Brand was intermittently given the starting nod.
At this stage of Kaman’s career, he still has what it takes to be a starter on some of the lesser squads, but he suffers from no ego driven delusions. He is content to step into a supporting role so long as he gets a regular chance to contribute. After playing in only 39 games with the Lakers last year, a nightly allotment on a probable playoff team will be a welcome change.