Chris Kaman's 4-Million-Dollar Question

Chris Kaman and the Hornets face a 4-Million-Dollar Question as it relates to his future and a potential buyout. Where do the Mavs stand as another deadline of March 23 closes in? What does this deadline mean? The numbers give us the scoop:

Before the trade deadline, we wrote that New Orleans center Chris Kaman would make a great fit with the Dallas Mavericks, but given what it would take to trade for him, the Mavs were likely to let the deadline pass and hope to sign him in the event of a buyout.

But there was no certainty as to whether he would get bought out.

This weekend, broke the story of the Mavs two-man big-man priority list of Kaman and Ronny Turiaf. Four days after the trade deadline, other players have already been released, but not Kaman. The deadline for a player to be waived by one team, and be playoff eligible if he signs with another team, is this Thursday. Is he going to be set free?

Almost certainly not.

Since the trade deadline, the question was asked of NO general manager Dell Demps, who said, "Everything is always a possibility. I mean there's no reason to say I'm certain, 100 percent sure. There's always a possibility. I never want to say never. But our intention is to keep Chris."

The reason for his haziness? It's Kaman's contract. If he's bought out, one side or the other would have to eat some or all of the remainder of his $14M salary for this season, a balance which is still in the $4M-ish range. The Hornets are undoubtedly open to saving that much money if Kaman wants to walk away and leave it behind in a buyout, but are not going to offer to give up money to see him leave.

So what's Kaman's view? First, understand that Kaman would probably end up with less than $1M by signing with another team. And when asked, he is saying he's in NO to finish the season, and he's "certainly" interested in re-signing there next season.

Furthermore, if there is no buyout, the Hornets will have his Bird rights in trying to retain him this summer, which allows them the cap freedom to sign him to any contract the two sides can agree on. If the Hornets want to sign him next season (and they are now saying they do), they have every reason to forgo a buyout (which would erase those Bird rights) ...and if he wants to give them the ability to give him a better contract, Kaman doesn't want to go elsewhere and lose those Bird rights.

While there's always the possibility that this is a negotiating game of chicken in which the two sides want the other to take the first step (and give up the most money), the positives both sides are offering about Kaman being in NO next season would seem to indicate they're both trying to encourage him to stay.

So we're on Ronny Turiaf Watch in terms of incoming candidates ... And we're mystified at the notion of Lamar Odom as an outgoing candidate. These things can change on a dime -- the Sacramento Kings just officially waived J.J. Hickson, a bit of a shocker -- but we believe any thoughts of an Odom buyout didn't come from the Mavs themselves. And as we've detailed repeatedly, there is little Asset Management value to doing so.

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