Lakers player reviews: Chris Kaman

May, 22, 2014
May 22
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McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Chris KamanAP Photo/Mark DuncanChris Kaman's decision to lie down on the job didn't sit well with some in the Lakers' front office.

Chris Kaman

2013-14 salary: $3,183,000 | Age: 32 | Season stats: 10.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG.

Season recap: The former All-Star center quickly became the poster boy for Lakers fans who were upset with coach Mike D'Antoni. Anytime Kaman wouldn't play as D'Antoni cycled through his preferred smaller lineups, there would be a considerable clamor from talk-radio callers and the Twittersphere demanding for L.A. to go big. When Kaman would play, the same vocal faction of fans would become even more outraged when the 7-footer would play well (while seemingly ignoring when he didn't), calling for his minutes to increase. Overall, he had moments of extreme effectiveness but ended up playing in only 39 games because of a crowded frontcourt and a few maladies that started (food poisoning) and ended (calf strain) his season.

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Kobe Bryant says Chris Kaman should be retained by the Lakers. Do you agree?

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Season highlight: Kaman might have single-handedly knocked the Phoenix Suns out of the playoff race with a dominant 28-point, 17-rebound, six-assist night on 13-for-19 shooting in late March, leading the Lakers to an upset win.

Season lowlight: If there was one iconic image from the Lakers' historically bad 2013-14 season, it would probably have to be Kaman lying in the supine position across the bench during a game in Cleveland. The situation was admittedly ridiculous -- L.A. had so many players injured and/or had fouled out that Robert Sacre was assessed a technical foul but allowed to stay in the game as the Lakers' fifth eligible player by a little known NBA rule -- but Kaman took it to another level and upset some people in the organization while doing so for turning an already difficult season into a circus-like spectacle.

Final grade: C-minus

Notes: There was some debate within the Lakers' front office last summer before the team went out and spent their mini mid-level exception on Kaman. On one hand, he could provide insurance at the center position, especially with the Lakers coming off a season in which Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill missed so many games. On the other hand, L.A. already had Sacre to fill that role and Kaman was coming off a rocky season in Dallas.

Quotable: "I came here thinking it was going to be two bigs -- me and Pau. No one really said that, but I think that I anticipated that. Why else would they call me and want me to come play? So, I just don't think that that worked out how Coach anticipated either. ... It just was tough. I don't think Coach did any of that on purpose, I really don't. I think just two bigs don't fit in his style of offense and I think that's just how it goes." -- Kaman after his exit interview.

What's next? Despite Kaman's injury-riddled season, there is one influential Laker firmly in his camp. Back in March, Kobe Bryant was asked by Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher which players set to become free agents that he could envision back with the Lakers next season. A couple of the players he named -- Gasol and Jordan Farmar -- were fairly obvious, as Bryant paired with them to win championships in the past. What was surprising to hear was Bryant also mention Kaman (along with Jordan Hill and Wesley Johnson) on his short list of guys who should be retained.

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.4
AssistsK. Bryant 6.3
StealsK. Bryant 1.2
BlocksW. Johnson 1.0