Thursday, March 15, 2012
Hornets hang on to Chris Kaman
NEW ORLEANS -- The Hornets have not discussed buying out the rest of Chris Kaman's contract and would prefer to hold on to the 7-foot center.
General manager Dell Demps explored trade offers for Kaman, who is in the final year of a contract that pays about $14 million this season. However, the Hornets did not deal Kaman or any other player on Thursday before the NBA trade deadline passed.
"We value Chris. The door is not closed on him," Demps said shortly before the Hornets hosted the Washington Wizards on Thursday night. "He has had a good season. He has proven he can score. ... He has been very impressive, especially the last few weeks.
"We think there are a lot of opportunities still with Chris."
For about a week from late January to early February, Kaman was inactive and did not practice or play, agreeing instead to work out on his own while the team considered trade offers for the former All-Star. When a trade failed to materialize, Demps and coach Monty Williams invited Kaman back to the team, and he has scored in double digits in every game since, seemingly getting stronger as the season wears on. Kaman averaged 20.8 points during the five games leading up to Thursday night.
Kaman said he was not surprised he remained in New Orleans past the trade deadline.
"I didn't anticipate being moved after all that whole situation before when they couldn't find a trade or whatever," Kaman said. "The trade didn't work out that they had and I kept hearing things were kind of dead."
Kaman added that he sees it as a "good thing" that he is still with the Hornets and "certainly" remains open to remaining in New Orleans.
"I've established a relationship with a lot of people here and my teammates and I just want to finish the season the best we can and hopefully this summer we'll see what happens," Kaman said.
Demps said he fielded a flurry of trade offers shortly before Thursday's deadline but did not go into specifics about what those offers were or why he rejected them.
"We looked at possibilities in improving the team for the long-term. Nothing presented itself," Demps said. "We weren't able to put together any opportunities to improve our team so we stayed put.
"Sometimes the best trade is the trade you don't make," Demps added. "We're happy where we are right now. We're not happy with our record but we're happy with the direction the team is going. We maintain flexibility. We have some (draft) picks coming up. And we have an opportunity to see some of the young guys play the rest of the year. We're excited about the possibilities."
The Hornets, who entered Thursday night's game with a Western Conference-worst 10-33 record, likely will have two picks in the NBA draft lottery this summer. They also hope to reach an extension with high-scoring shooting guard Eric Gordon, who has played in only two games this season because of a right knee injury that required surgery. Veteran power forward Carl Landry also has missed 20 games with a sprained left knee, and center Emeka Okafor has missed 17 games with a sore left knee.
Landry and Okafor both expect to play again this season. Demps said Gordon also is expected to return by April.
"We want him to come back and play. He's working out hard," Demps said. "He has been engaged. He and I text a lot. He wants to play."