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TMCNet:  For Chris Kaman, a season of uncertainty

[February 19, 2012]

For Chris Kaman, a season of uncertainty

Feb 19, 2012 (Los Angeles Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- REPORTING FROM NEW YORK -- The hoopla surrounding the New York Knicks' Jeremy Lin is nothing compared to the madness that has consumed Chris Kaman.

Kaman went from the promising Clippers to the imploding New Orleans Hornets before the season, leaving Los Angeles with a tinge of resentment because he did not learn about the trade from the only NBA team for which he had played.

A starter for most his career, Kaman was largely relegated to reserve status with the Hornets, his minutes dropping as the losses piled up for a team that quickly established the worst record in the Western Conference.

Then the real lunacy started.

When General Manager Dell Demps decided last month to give more playing time to younger big men, the Hornets asked Kaman to stay away from the team so they could try to trade him.

Only one week later, amid a rash of injuries, the team asked him to come back.

Say what? Always a team player, Kaman went along with his employer's wish. The team had already essentially waved goodbye, wiping Kaman's image from a video shown in New Orleans Arena before games.

"It was a tough situation and I'm not going to get into all the details because it's kind of wild, all over the place," Kaman said Friday night. "It would take some explaining, and I don't feel like doing it. Ultimately, they asked me to come back. Whether the trade they had fell through, I don't know, but they asked me to come back and be with the team and I just tried to be positive about it." Injuries to center-forward Jason Smith and power forward Carl Landry have thrust Kaman back into the starting lineup for New Orleans' last three games, with encouraging results. Kaman averaged 19 points and 10.3 rebounds and the Hornets won all three games, beating Utah and Milwaukee before an 89-85 victory over breakthrough point guard Lin and the New York Knicks on Friday at Madison Square Garden.

Kaman said he still harbors hard feelings against Clippers management and thinks he deserved a call in December telling him to pack his things for New Orleans.

The phone rang, but the voice on the line did not belong to Coach Vinny Del Negro, team President Andy Roeser or Neil Olshey, the Clippers' vice president of basketball operations.

"I found out when someone called me randomly and they were just like, 'Hey, you just got traded.' " Kaman said of the deal that sent him to the Hornets along with shooting guard Eric Gordon, forward Al-Farouq Aminu and a first-round draft pick for Chris Paul and two second-round draft picks. "I'm like, 'What?' And still, they never called me, they never told me at all. And you would think after eight years you would have enough respect for a guy in your organization to tell him.

"They had this excuse like, 'Oh, the media's so fast nowadays with Twitter and everything we didn't have a chance.' But the easiest thing they could have done was pick up the phone and said, 'Hey, we just made a trade for you.' " Asked on Saturday about Kaman's comments, the Clippers said in a statement: "We wish only the best for all the players involved in the deal. However, for our part we've moved well past this matter and are focused on our team's current players and this season.

Last month, Olshey told Yahoo Sports that he and Del Negro were in the lobby of the Clippers' training facility waiting for Kaman to return from an event with season ticket-holders to discuss the trade.

"Unfortunately in today's social media it didn't matter if they were home, on a bus, shoot-around, out to dinner," Olshey said, "We would never get to them before other people got to them or it ended up on Twitter." Kaman isn't the only former Clipper enduring a trying season. Gordon has played in only two games because of a bone bruise in his right knee that recently required surgery. The shooting guard is expected to be out for about six more weeks and did not travel with the Hornets to New York.

Gordon, who becomes a restricted free agent this summer, will remain in New Orleans if the Hornets match the big-money offers he is sure to receive. Kaman could be gone any day now, his resurgence and expiring $14-million contract making him doubly attractive as the March 15 trade deadline approaches.

What does Kaman hope happens? "You know what? I can't even control that. I don't know," he said. "I'm just happy right now to be playing and be healthy and I'm blessed to be able to do that. As far as anything else goes, I don't know. I can't control it." ___ (c)2012 the Los Angeles Times Visit the Los Angeles Times at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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