The Clippers dream front court of post-Achilles Elton Brand, Chris Kaman 2.0, and Corey Maggette with Al Thornton thrown in for good measure may yet happen this season. According to Jonathan Abrams in the LA Times, Kaman's feeling much better:
Kaman reported improvement in his moderately sprained right ankle, enough so that his status was upgraded to questionable for tonight. It's still unlikely he will play today. He did not practice Saturday, receiving treatment instead.
But it's now conceivable he could return for a couple games from an injury originally thought to sideline him for the season.
"I don't think he should play if there's anything where he's not at a pretty high level," Dunleavy said.
It's plainly obvious that MDsr has been conservative with player injuries after the All Star Break, to the brink of the NBA needing to intervene to stop the tanking. Consider that Cat Mobley has missed consecutive games with a "sore left heel" compared to only three games off in November with a pulled groin muscle when he could barely walk. Citizen Zhiv has been begging for someone to validate his observation that Brand looked like he could have been back a lot sooner when he debuted against Seattle. I haven't chimed in on the subject simply because I couldn't think of a particularly clever way to say "Duh." And Abrams reported that MDsr himself conceded the point, saying Brand could have "suited up three weeks ago."
But this case seems different. While Kaman's back was hurting, I was in less interested in seeing Brand back on the court without him. As much as we wanted to see Brand play again, the real payoff is to see that imposing front court together - asking Brand to try to carry a team just as wracked by injuries as the one Kaman was saddled with all year is just prolonging our Clips-national tragedy, with a more compelling actor as the tragic hero. So rushing Kaman back (and the italics are ironic, when you consider that players don't really miss eight games with a moderately sprained ankle) makes a lot more sense for MDsr and the team - it's our last chance to see these guys together.
There's little chance that Kaman will play tonight (Abrams says he's been upgraded to questionable). Whether the hometown faithful will get to see their 'dream bigs' against the Nuggets on Tuesday or the Lakers on Thursday remains to be seen. With the Lakers game on National TV, the Clippers might be wise to play him then (assuming he's sufficiently recovered) to demonstrate to a national audience how talented this roster is at full strength. Losing is fine and all, but being blown out on National TV just re-emphasizes the 'hapless' Clippers story line. But that would require a marketing savvy that the Clippers have never really possessed.
The team closes with three road games. With 10 days left between today and the end of the season, I think there's plenty of incentive, and plenty of time, to see Brand and Kaman together, at least for a couple of games.