No Chris Kaman trade, sources say

Updated: February 3, 2012, 5:34 PM ET
By Chris Broussard and Marc Stein | ESPN.com

The New Orleans Hornets have decided to take center Chris Kaman off the trade market and are bringing him back to the team, according to sources close to the situation.

The league-owned Hornets deactivated Kaman last week and told the former All-Star on Friday that he could wait at home while team officials tried to find a new trade home for him.

Kaman
Kaman

But after discussions with numerous teams, sources said, New Orleans has decided to end those talks and recall Kaman, though it wasn't immediately clear what sort of role he'll have after Hornets coach Monty Williams announced last week that getting minutes for young players such as Jason Smith, Al-Farouq Aminu and Gustavo Ayon was the staff's priority.

It also remains to be seen, sources said, whether the Hornets' stance is firm, since it is widely expected around the league that Kaman would be dealt before the March 15 trade deadline.

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 the leaguewide assumption from the start was that New Orleans would turn around and trade Kaman before the deadline, largely because he has an expiring contract.

Kaman, who turns 30 in April, is making $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.

With the Hornets hoping to acquire draft picks or other young assets for Kaman, Houston showed the strongest interest in the 7-footer.

But sources said that interested teams -- Cleveland and Indiana were also among those that inquired -- balked at the asking price established by the league officials (Stu Jackson and Joel Litvin) who, along with NBA commissioner David Stern, essentially function as New Orleans' ownership committee until the team is sold.

League spokesman Tim Frank said in a statement: "Dell Demps is the general manager of the Hornets (and) neither Stu Jackson nor Joel Litvin has had any conversations with any teams about a trade for Chris Kaman. Further, neither Stu nor Joel has set any asking price. Any information you are receiving to the contrary is simply not true."

The Rockets were believed to be offering a package built around the expiring contracts of two former top-10 picks from the 2009 draft in Hasheem Thabeet and Jordan Hill. Indiana is the only team in the league with the current salary-cap space available to take in Kaman's contract without sending players back to New Orleans, but no team has yet been willing to meet the Hornets' demands in terms of draft compensation.

Kaman's last appearance with the team was Jan. 27 at the morning shootaround, with the New Orleans Times-Picayune reporting earlier this week that his image had been excised from the team's pregame video shown during introductions at home games.

Kaman was an All-Star in 2009-10 and averaged 18.5 points and 9.2 rebounds for the Clippers that season. In 17 games with the Hornets this season, Kaman is averaging 9.2 points and 6.6 rebounds in 22.7 minutes per game.

Once the Hornets made the decision last week to focus on the development of their young big men, sources said, they approached Kaman and his representative, Rob Pelinka, about Kaman being deactivated until a trade could be consummated. The thinking was 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 4-19, building for the future in the wake of Paul's departure has emerged as the organization's clear priority.

Chris Broussard is a senior NBA writer for ESPN The Magazine. Marc Stein is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

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