NBA PM: Chris Kaman Talks Trade
The Los Angeles Clippers executed the blockbuster Chris Paul trade on Sunday that in part will send Chris Kaman to the New Orleans Hornets.
An All-Star in 2010, Chris was the longest tenured Clipper after eight seasons in LA and the last link to the 2006 playoff team that was a win away from the Western Conference Finals.
Soon after being traded, Kaman took a moment to talk with HOOPSWORLD by phone:
“They’ve been trying to do like, trades back and forth with me for a little bit now,” said Kaman. “I even hear about them, all the stuff going on . . . I didn’t want to put the organization in any type of position where they had to explain themselves. I was just trying to be professional about it, and be as honest as I could about it without giving out too much information.”
“I tend to do that a little too much,” continued Chris.
Are you relieved that it’s over? You wanted to be out but you didn’t push for it publicly?
I didn’t really want to be out, but I just wanted an opportunity to play . . . play a certain amount of time.
Just, an opportunity to play the way I played for the first seven years of my career, I just couldn’t see that happening this year with the situation with DeAndre and Blake [Griffin] and the coaching style (the way Vinny [Del Negro] coaches as far as his style of offense and everything) and now with Caron [Butler] who’s a great player, they got Chauncey [Billups], they have so many offensive weapons and I think they have a great opportunity. I don’t think the Clippers will just make the playoffs I think it’ll be a 50-win season for the Clippers . . .
What do you think of the opportunity in New Orleans, likely sharing a front court with Emeka Okafor?
Yeah, no Emeka does a great job for every team he’s played for: rebounding the ball, blocking shots, playing good defense. He’s a solid offensive player.
I just want to be to help out in any way I can. I talked to coach tonight, Monty [Williams], and we had a short conversation and he kinda told me what to do and what kind of things to look for and all that kinda stuff. There’s still a lot of ground to be covered in that area, offensive and defensive execution and all that kinda stuff so it’s still a bit of time until I get here and then I’ll figure all that out.
I’m blessed to be able to run up and down the court and play in the NBA, there’s not a lot of guys who can just do that, so I’m just going to do that whether it’s here or somewhere else. I would have loved to have been here [in LA], in a situation where it works for me. I liked it here, I knew everybody, I have businesses here. There are things that I like to do here, and I have a house and I just got married here. Everything is set up for me here, so it’s going to be an adjustment, but it’s something I gotta do, and there’s a plan for my life and I think that this is kind of, my path. I can’t control it, I don’t control that stuff.
I would’ve liked it to have went a little different, but it’s OK.
Is it an emotional thing for you? Is it difficult?
No, I mean, I’m not crying about it or sad like that, but it’s frustrating and I’m down a little bit. I would’ve liked to have a little more notice. I was on the bus at a team even and my realtor’s son called me and said “Hey you just got traded on TV!”
I heard about it and I thought it was a joke for a little while. And [Al-Farouq Aminu] called me and said it was for sure, and a deal as long as everything went well with the physicals and all that kinda stuff, but everybody already went through physicals [here with Clippers] so we’ll be fine there. And Chris Paul had a couple things he had to do before everything was good to go, so I think the Clippers made a good deal, I mean anytime you can get a player like Chris Paul? I think pretty much any player is worth the trade in that situation.
Have you ever, other than playing there, been to New Orleans and spent any time there?
No, I haven’t. We didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up so we didn’t have the money to just travel all over like that, and I never had the opportunity. I don’t know much about it but I’ve played there enough times to know the places to go.
[The Hornets] have had their ups and downs with success there, and Chris Paul has been a bright light for the team. I think they’ve done really well in the playoffs (last year), but it’s gonna be an exciting team there I think. There is still work to be done there, and a lot of potential for that team, so we’ll see what happens.
They were in a tough financial position, as far as the owner or somebody filed for bankruptcy or whatever, so the NBA took over the team. We’ll see what happens with that, too.
They’re trying to sell it and maybe by the time you’re free agent next year, there will be a new ownership regime in place. Regardless you’ll hit free agency with the opportunity to put the minutes in and that can’t be a bad thing.
I’m just looking for the opportunity to play again and stay healthy. It sucked for me last year, being hurt so early in the season, having to sit out so long, trying to come back a little too early and then I hurt my ankle in the end and it set me out longer.
I’m a team guy and I just want to play, you know? I just want to be able to play basketball and have fun. I think I’m pretty good at what I do, and I bring a different style of basketball to the team, be it post up, face up, pick and pop stuff. I’m gonna do a solid job defending, and I think I’m a solid player for any team, and I’m happy to get my talents into somewhere I’m wanted and we’ll see what happens.
And you’re healthy, other than the black eye, you’re in good shape?
Other than the black eye, I’m doing good. My black eye. I got hit in the nose, so I’m getting a little bit of a black eye but I’m feeling good about that too.
That’s going to be your photos for the year . . .
Yeah, I don’t care!
I don’t know what’s happening there, cause it’s last minute. I wish I would’ve been a little bit different. It doesn’t give me a lot of time to figure anything out, so I just gotta get home and then see what happens.
Harden Says Small Market Oklahoma City is an Advantage to Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder moved quickly from a lottery team to a playoff force, giving the Dallas Mavericks a challenge in last season’s Western Conference Finals.
With so much attention on stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, third-year guard James Harden has found a niche role as a crucial scoring option coming off the bench as the sixth man.
It’s unclear if Coach Scott Brooks will keep him as a reserve this season or inject James into the starting lineup. Regardless, the Thunder have very high expectations this season.
With the Dallas Mavericks losing Tyson Chandler, albeit improving in other was (with Lamar Odom, Vince Carter, etc.) and the Los Angeles Lakers losing Odom, the Thunder may have a real opportunity this season to surpass last year’s accomplishments.
Harden spoke recently to HOOPSWORLD, recounting his feelings when the lockout was finally lifted.
“I feel like I just got drafted again,” said Harden. “I was just excited. It’s a sigh of relief that we can get back to work.”
James made major strides from his rookie season through his sophomore campaign, improving every step of the way.
“The whole purpose of me working hard and getting better every day is to brand myself,” said Harden. “I think I’m in a great situation here with the Thunder as young guys and then we’ve got two All-Stars on the team and guys are trying to work hard. I think I’m in a good position.”
He worked hard through the extended summer to continue that progress.
“[I worked on] everything. From mid-range game to better three-point percentage to making great players on the ball, definitely,” said Harden. “My entire game – that comes with hard work every single game.”
James is happy outside of flashier cities like Los Angeles, Miami and New York. He views playing in Oklahoma City as an advantage.
“I think the market is great. Our fans are tremendous. The best fans in the NBA,” said Harden. “Such a small city really gives us time to bond and just really hang out and get to know each other. That makes us different from any other team. You have a big city with guys can really scatter around but we really hang out off the court which makes us better on the court.”
James has high hopes for the season ahead.
“Since I’ve been here, I think we’ve improved,” said Harden. “From making the playoffs to making it to the Western Conference Finals. [This] year hopefully we can do better than that with hard work.”
What has been the key for the team’s rapid ascent?
“Growth. I think that was our first time so we were just going with the flow, playing hard, schemes and different things like that but we’ve been there so we kind of know what to expect,” said the Thunder guard. “So we’re going to get there and we’ll remember them and try to make better changes.”
Would anything other than an NBA Finals bid be a step back after a visit to the WCF?
“We don’t want to put that expectation on ourselves,” said James. “We just want to go out there and do what we do every single game what got us to that point, that’s play together, play hard and try to win games.”
The Thunder may be the best team in the conference. The league will play 66 games from Christmas through April. It will be a packed, interesting journey, especially for a youthful, yet somehow veteran team like the Thunder.
“We’re ahead of the curve,” said James. “We’re young. We’ve got a lot to learn but we’re talented enough and smart enough to make it . . .”