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The Latest Kaman Rumors

Citizen ClippersUK has posted a FanShot from a David Aldridge column on  The money quote, for those who haven't seen it yet, is this:

And even though the Clippers have specifically denied it to me, I keep hearing they're still determined to repatriate Chris Kaman, figuring they can go 10-40 just as well without him as with his remaining three years and $33.9 million.

Times beat reporter Lisa Dillman has a post up on the Fabulous Forum blog with her take on the likelihood of Kaman being moved before the trade deadline.  Her conclusion - not very likely, since the Clippers don't seem to be even planning to get Kaman back on the court until after the deadline (a revelation in it's own right, continuing the trend of Kaman's foot moving backwards through time). 

For my part, I view the statement about Kaman above as a throwaway.  It's one sentence in a pretty lengthy column focused on the tough economic realities that NBA owners are facing.  Frankly, it may be completely true from an economic standpoint - if the Clippers could trade Kaman for salary relief (i.e. if they truly could save a ton of money on his future salary) they might do that.  Of course it's more than a little short-sighted.  They can't by salary cap rules, save significant money this season.  So by the time the savings kicked in, the economy will have changed.  Sterling has always been a 'buy and hold' guy, so while his net worth is clearly down on paper, traditionally that hasn't mattered a whole lot to him.  You have to admire him for that, at least.

The simple fact remains as well that it may not be possible to trade Kaman for straight cap relief.  How many $10M expiring contracts are out there?  Does that team want Kaman?

UPDATE: I decided I had a few more things to say about this.

There's a difficult conflict of interest here for coach/GM Dunleavy.  The guy wearing the GM hat may have marching orders to save money now, and may even have a desire to build for the future at the expense of the present (imagine for example a trade scenario of Kaman for an expiring deal and a prospect or a pick).  But the guy wearing the coach hat is under pressure to win now.  MDsr's job is safer than perhaps it should be, but he can't be considered invulnerable. 

Of course Dunleavy has implied all along that he likes the idea of having three starting quality bigs and doesn't consider it a problem or a log jam.  He said it outright a couple weeks ago - "No plans at all [to trade a big].  We want to see how they play together. We think they can be one of the best front lines in basketball. I think they can work well together; I just haven't seen it happen yet.".  The rumors obviously persist, though it's interesting to note that the back story has changed.  For a couple months after the Randolph trade it was "The Clippers have a glut of bigs, they need to trade one."  Now it's, "The Clippers are looking to save money, they need to trade Kaman."  The real reason for persistent rumors of course is simpler - tossing the names of seven footers around is exciting and fun!

Along those lines, I can't help but be a little snide looking at Aldridge's supposition.  (I wasn't going to go there, but there I go.)  Let's break it down:

  • "Even though the Clippers have specifically denied it to me, I keep hearing...." A fascinating construction.  He presents conflicting information (he's not being shopped, he is being shopped), and provides attribution for the first viewpoint.  But the viewpoint that supports his overall theme is the one he strongly implies is correct - yet he provides absolutely no attribution.  "I keep hearing..."  From whom?  Maybe you keep hearing it because you keep saying it and you can hear yourself.  He doesn't even bother to hint at who might be floating this contrary position.  If the Clippers deny it, whom exactly is in a position to contradict that?  Presumably it's other GMs, or perhaps the league office, who are privy to discussions involving Kaman.  Or maybe it's Kaman's agent.  But it's pretty noticeable that he doesn't bother to label his source in even the vaguest of terms. 
  • "They can go 10-40 just as well without him..."  There's a minor factual error here.  The Clippers were never in fact 10-40.  They were 10-39, but they had 12 wins before they got their 40th loss.  A minor point.  The bigger problem with the phrase is the implication that they compiled that record with him.  Kaman has played in 15 games - fewer than 30% of the Clippers' games so far.  They can do that badly without him?  Well, I should think so, since they did.  It's completely specious - he presents an argument as if it supports his position, but in fact it doesn't at all.
  • In the pet peeve department, the use of the verb 'repatriate' in this sentence is somewhere between incorrect and nonsensical.  Repatriate, in it's dictionary definition, would be to send Kaman back to his own country.  Is Aldridge trying to be clever, in reference to Kaman's German passport obtained in order to play in last summer's Olympics?  Well, that would require the Clippers to be discussing trades with clubs in Germany, which is clearly not true, and wouldn't be of any money saving use at any rate under the collective bargaining agreement.  Even if we take some license with the literal definition, the word would only make sense if they wanted to send him BACK somewhere - which begs the question, whence?  He's played his entire NBA career with the Clippers.  Are they sending him back to Michigan to play for the Pistons?  Surely Aldridge meant to say they wish to 'exile' him or to 'excommunicate' him.  At any rate, it's pretty clear that Aldridge is misusing a big fancy word here.  I find this sort of catachresis extremely discommodious.

So, as I mentioned, it's a bit of a throwaway sentence in a larger column.  The fact that he provides no attribution, gets the facts wrong, draws spurious conclusions and misuses the language (all in one sentence!) makes me somewhat disinclined to believe it. 

But what do I know?  I am pretty much constantly wrong.