Wednesday night, FoxSports.com's Chris Tomasson reported that a number of Heat executives, including team president Pat Riley, have expressed interest in acquiring New Orleans Hornets center Chris Kaman. The report states that Riley has reached out to people close to Kaman to gauge the 7-footer's interest in joining Miami if the Hornets waive Kaman. Erik Spoelstra recently noted that waiving Mickell Gladness -- and subsequently signing him to a 10-day contract -- gave the Heat "flexibility," having one roster spot open.
The sixth pick in the 2003 NBA Draft is making $14 million this year in the final season of the five-year, $52 million deal he signed back in 2006, and is a buyout candidate. The Hornets put Kaman on the trading block in late January and were reportedly seeking draft picks and young assets in return, a price that potentially interested teams predictably balked at. Assuming they are unable to trade him, the Hornets will likely try to reach a buyout agreement with Kaman in the hopes of saving a fraction of the roughly $8 million still owed to him for the rest of the season.
The Hornets acquired Kaman from the Clippers in the Chris Paul trade after commissioner David Stern revoked, er, "refused to sign off" on a trade that would've sent Paul to the Lakers. I must've missed the distinction. In that deal, the Hornets would've received Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol. Gasol would've then been shipped to Houston for Luis Scola and Kevin Martin. Instead of the Odom-Scola-Martin trio, the Hornets could wind up with just a half season of Kaman, two games of Eric Gordon (in fairness, nobody could've predicted his injury-riddled campaign), Al-Farouq Aminu and a mediocre lottery pick from Minnesota. Don't forget, Stern went on Bill Simmons' podcast during the offseason and said he would allow Hornets General Manager Dell Demps to perform his duties with autonomy and would not interfere in the Hornets' day-to-day operations. Well done, commissioner. I digress.
Kaman, who is still a productive player, would give the Heat some much-needed depth in the front-court. The potential acquisition would also move Joel Anthony to his more comfortable, appropriate role of an energetic defender off the bench. The former All-Star is averaging 10.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 24 minutes per game for the Hornets this year. He would be a considerable upgrade over every Heat center currently on the roster, and could come in handy in the playoffs when the Heat run into the Chicago Bulls, who currently lead the league in offensive rebounding. Unlike previous Heat targets Kenyon Martin and Joel Przybilla, Kaman is not far removed from his prime. He was a Western Conference All-Star during the 2009-10 season and has averaged double-figure scoring and at least seven rebounds per game each of the past seven seasons.
If the Heat managed to acquire Kaman, the team would sport four lottery picks from the 2003 class -- LeBron James (first), Chris Bosh (fourth), Dwyane Wade (fifth) and Kaman (sixth). Although he went undrafted, forward Udonis Haslem was a rookie during the 2003-04 season, like the aforementioned players. The Heat have previously acquired veterans on the "waiver wire", including Alonzo Mourning in 2005, Eddie Jones in 2007 and Mike Bibby last year.