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‘Dre Rumor of the Day: To Clippers for Chris Kaman

Jun 9, 2011, 12:37 PM EDT

Andre Iguodala appears to be legitimately on the trading block, as rumors now connect him to Clips center Chris Kaman.

Well, at the very least, it seems like Rod Thorn and Ed Stefanski are
legitimately shopping longest-tenured Sixer Andre Iguodala this
off-season. Mere days after he was rumored to be one half of a swap with
Golden State’s Monta Ellis, a new proposal has trickled down the
pipeline: One sending him to Los Angeles for odd-Clipper-out Chris
Kaman. An all-star center two seasons ago, Kaman spent much of last year
injured and lost his starting spot to the younger, more athletic, more
defensively inclined DeAndre Jordan, who makes for a better fit
alongside Clips franchise power forward Blake Griffin than does Kaman.
He was effective but inconsistent upon his return, leading to rumblings
that he might be deemed expendable by L.A. brass for the team’s future.

In many ways, this is a deal that makes sense on both sides. While
Kaman isn’t quite the first-option scorer that Ellis is, he is a
legitimate offensive weapon, scoring 18.5 points a game on 49% shooting
in 34 minutes a game two years ago. More importantly, he’s a legitimate
center, a seven-footer with post moves and a jump shot, who rebounds
well (if not spectacularly) and blocks a shot or two a game. Meanwhile,
Iguodala is exactly what the Clippers need—a versatile, defensive-minded
small forward who can defend, pass, and like just about everyone else
on that team, dunk. And with Blake and shooting guard Eric Gordon
entrenched as the top two scoring options for the Clips for years and
years to come, ‘Dre could finally focus doing all those things he does
well, without being called on to any of the things he doesn’t.

But while Iguodala seems a virtual no-brainer for the Clips—with
him, I’d be pretty shocked if they missed the playoffs last year—Kaman
on the Sixers is a little more of a mixed blessing. Though he can
score—better than Spencer Hawes, certainly—he’s not really the
first-option scorer the Sixers need, more of a complementary piece. And
on defense, he’s not a huge upgrade over Hawes—in fact, he’s not a
particularly high-IQ player, and is prone to lapses in effort and
concentration, hardly the defensive anchor we need in the frontcourt.
And finally, on a team where youth and athleticism is still the core
strength, Kaman is neither particularly young (29 last April) or
particularly athletic (not a complete stiff, but there’s a reason the
Clips prefer DeAndre Jordan so much).

All that said, there are advantages to dealing for Kaman beyond what
he does on the court. His deal, which pays him a little over 12 million
next year, expires at the end of the season, two years before
Iguodala’s weighty contract finally lapses. He could be hugely valuable
as an expiring contract at next year’s trade deadline, or he could help
the Sixers be players in the 2012 off-season—or merely offer them some
relief if they go heavy with the spending this summer. Ultimately, it’s a
lower-risk, lower-reward move than dealing for Ellis would be—one that
doesn’t lock the team into any long-term commitment or threaten to
interfere with any of their core players, but one which will, barring a
huge leap from some of their young guys, be relatively unlikely to be
the move that helps the Sixers take the next step.

Ultimately, of the two deals, I think I like the
swing-for-the-fences Ellis deal a little more, though both have their
advantages and would be, in my opinion, better than keeping Iguodala
around for another season. The one thing that does worry me about both
deals is that neither help the team in terms of young talent or draft
picks—neither really helps the team start the rebuilding process
straight-up, but rather offers them quality players who might just end
up keeping the Sixers afloat in mediocrity for one more season. Perhaps I
like the Ellis deal more because it has a greater chance of either
elevating the team to the next level, or screwing them up
completely—hopefully guaranteeing that at the very least, we wouldn’t be
seeing another 41-41 season.

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