The Houston Rockets have had extensive discussions with the New Orleans Hornets about center Chris Kaman and appear to be in the lead to trade for him, numerous sources told SI.com.
While no deal is imminent and the pieces are still being discussed, sources said the talks have involved the Rockets’ two top-10 picks from the 2009 draft — center Hasheem Thabeet (No. 2 by Memphis) and power forward Jordan Hill (No. 8 by New York). The Rockets have other young former first-rounders who could be included as well, among them second-year forward Patrick Patterson, third-year point guard Jonny Flynn and third-year small forward Terrence Williams. They also have a 2012 first-round pick from the Knicks that the Hornets would love to obtain.
I’ve been engaging you all about such a trade for some time now on Twitter, so many of you already know my thoughts: if it’s just for some combination of the ’09 busts, the deal would be an absolute no-brainer. No deal if they want Patterson or the Knicks pick. Those two are off limits.
The Rockets have two goals right now and Kaman fits neatly into both: remaining competitive this season and maintaining flexibility next summer. With his low-post repertoire, Kaman gives the Rockets a serious frontcourt rotation (depending on what happens with Patterson) while also keeping alive the Dwight Howard dream in July; Chris’ $14million comes off the books at that time, putting the team where they would have been had they/if they just stand pat with the ’09 busts.
I’ve said since the Dalembert signing that this team would make the playoffs. If they can land Kaman, I don’t think a second round appearance is out of the question. He’s one of the most skilled low post threats in basketball and with Dalembert and Scola, would give the Rockets one hell of a big-man combination to take on the West. His numbers are down, but the skillset meets the ‘eye’ test. Kaman is a load inside, with the ability to hit fadeaways off either block off the glass from strange angles (something I noted back in 2009 during a Clippers-Rockets game.)
Patterson and the Knicks pick should be off limits. Those violate the goal of maintaining the future. But an ’09 bust package should be automatic from Houston’s side. Let’s hope Daryl can get it done. Management clearly feels that competitiveness is the right choice to make this city a more attractive destination. Landing Chris Kaman would go a long way towards that.
UPDATED at 2:50PM CST:
There’s really no opportunity cost here to a deal like Thabeet, Hill, Flynn. It’s not like you’d be playing Kaman instead of promising youngsters who need development time; those youngsters would be the ones traded and the team has already decided that they’re not worth the effort anyway.
I realized I left out mention of Flynn above – if he’s included, I would drive him to the airport myself.
The only potential problem I see pertains to the chemistry concerns of bringing on another ‘starter’ quality player. Dalembert has earned the job, but by all accounts, Kaman wants to start. If he’s coming off the bench, you could see some issues.
More thoughts: To my fellow pro-tankers, the dream is and has been over for some time. The winning streak destroyed any chance of this team landing a top lottery slot. With their draft position sufficiently screwed, the team now has no choice but to go all in without mortgaging the future. I don’t buy into the team’s theory of ‘make the playoffs to attract Dwight’, but if that’s the goal, you at least have to support such a deal.
On Patterson, Knicks pick, maybe Budinger: no. These guys/entities, except for maybe Chase, are off limits. While he’ll make a huge difference, even with Kaman, this team won’t win the title this season. There is no point in dealing off a young piece in his acquisition. The ’09 busts have no value anyway, so they are a case of making lemonade from lemons.