Kaman returning to Hornets soon
NEW ORLEANS (AP)
The New Orleans Hornets have decided to reactivate 7-foot center Chris Kaman, who had been excused from team activities since last week while the club sought to trade him, according to a person familiar with the decision.
The person spoke to the Associated Press on Friday on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been announced. Kaman likely won't join the Hornets for Saturday's game at Detroit but probably will return Monday against Sacramento.
The person said the relationship between Kaman and Hornets coach Monty Williams was fine. But when general manager Dell Demps hoped a trade would develop quickly, Williams wanted to start working younger players into the rotation.
Once a trade didn't happen as quickly as they thought, it made sense to bring Kaman back, the person said.
Kaman, 29, was acquired by New Orleans in the multiplayer trade that sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers before the season, but has struggled to find a consistent role with the Hornets. He's mostly backed up center Emeka Okafor.
His playing time and production have fluctuated significantly. He had a season-high 20 points in 28 minutes at Denver on Jan. 9, but in the last two games before he was deactivated, he had three points in seven minutes against Dallas and six points in 14 minutes against San Antonio.
In 17 games, Kaman has averaged 9.2 points and 6.6 rebounds. He is in the final year of a contract that pays him about $14 million this season, making him a potential trade target for a team that is interested in a former All-Star center with a large expiring contract that will clear salary cap space when the season ends.
Kaman was first deactivated Jan. 25, while he was still with the team. He was then excused from all team activities and advised to stay home and await a trade.
In recent games, the Hornets have given increasing minutes to 6-foot-10 power forward Gustavo Ayon of Mexico, an NBA rookie acquired in December from a team in Spain's top professional league. In the past six games that Kaman has missed, Ayon has had the first two double-digit scoring games of his career, with 16 points at Oklahoma City on Jan. 25 and 10 points against Phoenix on Wednesday.
It remains to be seen how Williams will work Kaman back into the rotation. The Hornets still have until the NBA trade deadline March 15 to deal Kaman or any other player on the roster.