Chris Kaman: Keeping Portland Weird


So… The Portland Trail Blazers signed Chris Kaman, a move no one really saw coming. Technically, all free agents are a possibility, but based on the other players Portland was “interested” in and filling in what Portland needs next season, Kaman does not fit into that mold. It was a peculiar signing, and at best, comes from way out of left field, though probably from somewhere outside the entire stadium completely.

Strangely, I don’t really have a problem with general manager Neil Olshey and the Trail Blazers taking a chance on a guy who’s shown signs of good-ness (definitely not greatness, though) throughout his entire career. Ultimately, it’s probably the best the Blazers could do in free agency based on what Portland wanted to spend. They could have used the midlevel exception on a player like Spencer Hawes for four years. Instead, the Blazers left themselves a loophole in Kaman’s contract and can scrap it after one year, if they choose. It’s a very low risk-high reward signing for Portland.

I know what you’re thinking, “Yeah, yeah… that’s great the Blazers got a new player, but who is Chris Kaman?”

Well, that’s exactly what I’d like to get into. Here are five fun facts about Kaman:

 1. Kaman is a weirdo, but in a cool Portland way, kind of.

That’s the first thing you need to know about Kaman. He makes Marcin Gortat seem like a normal person. LA Times columnist Bill Plaschke wrote a piece back in 2005 when Kaman was with the Clippers on how different and weird Kaman was compared to other NBA players.

When you google “Chris Kaman weird” there is a picture of Kaman posing with a dead cat prior to a game against the Charlotte Bobcats.

2. You know Kaman as the “Sleeping Guy” at the end of the Lakers’ bench

At least he has a sense of humor.

3. Earlier this year, Kaman, apparently, tweeted out that he saw Blake Griffin smack Justin Bieber at a Starbucks.

The story was actually picked up by a variety of tabloid and news organizations. It turned out the story was not, in fact, true. Kaman had engineered the whole thing. Now, THAT is funny!

4. Kaman looks like Emperor Palpatine

5. Kaman and Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni didn’t speak for three weeks… during the season

Yeah, did I mention Kaman didn’t like playing for D’Antoni in L.A.? Well, it’s pretty self-explanatory. Kaman appeared in less than half the games this season for the Lakers. That’s how much he and D’Antoni didn’t get along.

Now you know about Kaman and his personality a little bit more. Let’s talk about his basketball ability and what he brings to the Blazers.

Kaman is an inside-post player, who can score. That’s about all he can do. He’s a pretty poor defender and not a great rebounder, honestly. The Blazers sent a clear message by bringing a player like Kaman into the organization. They need a guy to throw the ball to in the post and score with his back to the basket. Kaman can do that and do it pretty well.

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Kaman has had a long NBA career and has been around the block. He knows the ins and outs of the NBA, and he can provide a veteran presence to the bench, something the Blazers will need if they can’t bring back Mo Williams. Kaman also stabilizes a frontline of LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez, who both played way too many minutes last season. Kaman should take the load off those two and, hopefully, provide a scoring punch off the bench.

The move makes sense financially for Portland. Olshey can still bring in another free agent, most likely a guard, before the season, AND Portland can let Kaman go next season for only $1 million, if they want to. Kaman also makes sense when you think about Portland’s lack of inside success in the playoffs against, both, the Rockets and the Spurs. Kaman isn’t going to stop guys like Dwight Howard and Tim Duncan from scoring in the paint. He’s definitely not a rim protector. However; Kaman can put more pressure on the defense than Lopez can.

Maybe, Olshey and coach Terry Stotts are going with an “offense is our best defense”-type strategy. Off the bench, Kaman can force guys like Howard and Duncan to guard him, possibly wearing them down over the course of the game. That’s the only way the Kaman deal makes sense, other than the fact that he was fairly cheap and available compared to other big men on the market.

In the Blazers’ defense, the world just watched a team with no elite defensive stopper shut down LeBron James and the Miami Heat. All the players on the Spurs are threats on offense, virtually making them un-guardable. It appears as f Portland is going to experiment with that same strategy next season.

I don’t imagine anyone is in love with the Kaman signing. He might not be the difference between the Trail Blazers and a championship, but the season won’t be any less exciting with Kaman on the team. If anything, he’s another character to add to a locker room full of other characters. He might just be the perfect fit. Only time will tell.

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