- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
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The New Orleans Hornets are actively trying to trade center Chris Kaman, who was not with the team for its home game Friday night against Orlando as the league-owned Hornets field trade calls for him.
The Hornets have decided to shelve Kaman until they can find a trade home for him after making the decision to give his minutes to young players. Kaman had been made inactive for Wednesday's loss at Oklahoma City even though he's not injured.
"We've informed Chris that we are looking into possible trades and he was understanding about the situation," Hornets GM Dell Demps said. "We're working together on this.
"Chris has been the ultimate professional since he joined us. In no way is this a disciplinary action. We had discussions about extending his current contract when he first came to the Hornets, but the organization decided to go in a different direction."
The Hornets acquired Kaman in December as part of the blockbuster deal that sent face of the franchise Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers, but it was widely assumed around the league from the start that New Orleans would turn around and trade Kaman before the March 15 deadline, at least partly because he has an expiring contract.
"It's just something (where) we want to play our young guys and we certainly don't want to disrespect Chris at all," Hornets coach Monty Williams told local reporters before Friday night's game against the Magic.
"This is something we want to keep internally. It's certainly not disciplinary and he understands and I talked to him. We're going to play Jason Smith, Gustavo Ayon and Al-Farouq Aminu. It's just difficult to play that many bigs and I understand how difficult it is for (Kaman) to not get the minutes he wants."
Kaman, who turns 30 in April, is making roughly $14 million this season. He became the oldest player on the Hornets' roster after being dealt with guard Eric Gordon, Aminu and Minnesota's unprotected 2012 first-round pick for Paul.
Capitalizing on the minutes vacated by Kaman, Ayon scored 16 points in 17 minutes against the Thunder on 8-for-10 shooting.
Once the Hornets made the decision to focus on the development of their young big men, sources close to the situation said, they approached Kaman and his representative, Rob Pelinka, about the 7-footer being deactivated until a trade can be consummated. The thinking is that it would be unwise to play Kaman even in spot minutes and risk exposing him to injury if it's clear that he will be dealt before the March 15 trading deadline.
With the Hornets mired at 3-15 entering Friday's play, building for the future in the wake of Paul's departure has emerged as the organization's clear priority.
Senior writer Marc Stein covers the NBA for ESPN.com.