Ex-Clipper Kaman Says Old Team On Rise


DALLAS –
As Chris Kaman returns to Los Angeles Wednesday for the first time to play the Clippers since the team that drafted him sixth overall in 2003 traded him nearly one year ago for Chris Paul, the 7-foot center shared his unique perspective on his former club’s sordid history under owner Donald Sterling and its ongoing venture to reverse field as…

“The worst possible franchise in NBA and all sports history … to one of the top ones,” Kaman said.

But, before you think Kaman is about to roll on the floor laughing…

“And I think that’s possible,” continued Kaman, now the starting center for the Dallas Mavericks after a brief stop in New Orleans following the Dec. 14, 2011 trade that also sent Eric Gordon and Al-Farouq Aminu to the Hornets, and completely recast the Clippers. “They’re in L.A., they got the market, they got the sponsors, they got the people, they got the fans, they’re getting the players. It’s getting there.”

With All-Stars Paul and Blake Griffin surrounded by a deep and talented supporting cast, the Clippers sit atop the Pacific Division at 11-6. They are in the very real position of turning three decades of failure and embarrassment into a bright, new era bubbling with possibility if…

“If Sterling sold the team,” Kaman quipped, “they might be able to.”

But, before you think Kaman is about to rip on the stingiest and arguably the most abhorred owner in league history…

“The truth of the thing is, while I was there my first four to six years, he was tight with everything.  He didn’t want to spend the money,” Kaman said. “I think as he’s getting older he’s realizing, ‘Hey, I don’t know how much time I have left, whatever it is, I’m older.’ You can’t, you know, win in the grave. I’m serious. I think he’s getting close to 80 years old and I think that he’s seeing like, “Hey, I’m getting older, I’m not getting any younger, I want to try to win.’ So he’s putting that money out.”

Kaman noted the team’s $50 million, state-of-the-art practice facility that opened in 2008 in an upscale West Los Angeles neighborhood, the contract extension afforded to Griffin, the free-agent signings of Caron Butler and Jamal Crawford and several other smaller examples of Sterling opening his wallet that are less noticeable to the public, but that players notice.

The question now is whether it will be enough to keep Paul, who promised to give the Clippers a two-year test run and is expected to become a free agent after the season. The truth, of course, is the Clippers need Paul more than Paul needs the Clippers.

Yet, few franchises offer the promise of becoming a living legend if Paul helps to turn one of sports’ worst franchises into one of the best.

“They made the trade last year for me, Eric and Farouq and I thought for the organization of the Clippers, that was an awesome trade,” Kaman said. “You’ve seen since they picked him up all the guys wanting to be there. Before he was there no one wanted to be there. It was like people hated themselves for being there.”

If the Clippers can convince Paul to stay, he and Griffin will play together for at least the next four seasons. And that has the potential to transform L.A’s longtime red-headed stepchild of a franchise into a targeted destination of future free agents and, against all odds, a perennial contender.

“They’re coming a long ways,” Kaman said. “And I think the next three to five years, if they can keep on to Chris Paul, and maybe get some other young talent in there, they have a great opportunity to at least be successful, whether it’s winning the championship or just getting there.”

14 Comments

  1. abchome says:

    It looks like Kaman is flirting with the Clippers. I’d like him back as well.

  2. Nba Fan says:

    more championship for LA great! GO LA the best city in the states!

  3. bu says:

    It was the invisible & yet very visible hand of Stern that helped created this to perhaps give another story to the league while keeping the franchise afloat. It’s for once, nice to see inteference though other smaller mkt teams will just take the sour grapes for ever.

    For the Clips, they hv one of the best roster on paper & can kick anyone’s butt if we simply compare the talent & play pick up ball. And, they hv less of big star personality problems such as that of Heat & Lakers. If they hv a better coach & a good system of Off & Def, say if they get Larry Brown or Rick Carlisle, they’d win multiple champs easy.

    Clips hv a much more balanced talent compare to Heat. Let’s see how & if they break thru against OKC, Pop’s Spurs & Grizzlies in the next 2 yrs.

  4. tyrone says:

    Back then Donald Sterling was the worst owner EVER, but now he realizes that he needs to spend his money to get good players. nice job Donnie.

  5. celtic533 says:

    Yeah.CLIPPERS!!!!

    • Boswell says:

      Kamen did his best, and showed signs of brilliance. I wish him well. I’d take him back in a heartbeat, to share time with DJ. Kamen can shoot the lights out on a good night, and works hard on the boards.

  6. Sosay says:

    i mean, they’re actually good enough to win the championship now…. why not?

    • QuestionMark says:

      They are, but they do have to prove themselves first, they got swept by the Spurs last Playoffs, this season either they give a team like OKC or the Spurs one hell of a Series or make it to the WCF for them to truly be considered contenders.

  7. Robert Grebel says:

    Chris, you stole a lot of Donald Sterling’s money that he did spend, trying to compete. Stop talking about the Clippers and finish your career as quickly as possible

  8. DHK says:

    Hahaha that’s some real talk in true German style

  9. Chris says:

    Clippers aren’t just great because of Chris Paul. He’s certainly the star of the show but he has a very reliable players including a second unit backing him up, The bench is deep. Superstars win games but teams win championships. his leadership certainly the cornerstone of the franchise. Hope he stays I’ve wanted to see the lackluster clippers become a real life sports movie cliche since I was a kid

    • Crazygirl992 says:

      yea me too, and as much as I hate super teams I’d sorta wanna see the clips become one WITH PERFECT chemisitry! Just so someone who hasn’t watched the nba since Keith Closs was the starting center can turn on a random game and be over whelmed, it seems AAAWWEESSSOOOMMMEEE

  10. amitpal says:

    Sterling has done a great job gettinf all the players hes gotten in the last two years. Now all he has to do to finish it off is to get a good coach on the sideline. Vinny is not gonna get it done. He just isnt that good of a coach. Theres a reason the bulls let him go after he got them to the o playoffs. The clippers need to go out and get a bit of offensive minded coach who also coaches a little bit of defense. mike andtione would have been a great coach but if I was a clipper gm id give jerry sloan a real hard look.