Chris Kaman doesn’t think Pau Gasol should make the All-Star Game

“I don’t think Gasol should be in it at all. He’s only played like 20 games (he played Thursday in his 25th out of 42 Lakers games) this year. I think there should be a number of games you should play. I think you should have to play like 80 percent of the games. It shouldn’t be 50 percent over a guy who plays 90 percent and who has better numbers. Not just me. Zach Randolph, a power forward, he has better numbers (than Gasol). But he’s not on the Lakers.”

— Chris Kaman, via FanHouse

Players don’t usually comment about whether or not another player deserves to play in the All-Star Game, so there might be some blowback on Kaman.

He is averaging 20-9-2 with 1.4 blocks per game and 50% shooting from the field. But it’s hardly Gasol’s fault that he got injured, and he’s played well when healthy (17-11 with 54% shooting). He has played in almost 60% of his team’s games, and if he plays in the 10 games before the All-Star break, then he would have appeared in 67% of his team’s games. Is that enough? Seems to me that 60% or two-thirds would be enough. We are talking about the team with the best record in basketball.

Kaman goes on to say that he realizes it’s the Lakers, but if the Clippers had Kobe Bryant they’d have a better record. But it works both ways. If the Clippers had Kobe, Kaman wouldn’t be averaging 20-9. He can’t have it both ways.

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Take my overpaid star…please!

Memphis GM Gerald Wallace took a lot of heat for trading Pau Gasol to the Lakers. But if we’ve learned anything in the past few days, it’s that Wallace was simply a man ahead of his time.

On Tuesday, we learned that the Bucks agreed to trade Richard Jefferson to the Spurs for Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas and Amir Johnson. (Fabricio Oberto was part of the original deal, but San Antonio sent him to Detroit for Johnson, who was then sent to Milwaukee.)

Regular readers know I’m a Bucks fan, and I spent the last couple of days grumbling on the Sports Bubbler message boards about how we didn’t get anything in return for Jefferson, who is still a pretty good player. When Wallace traded away Gasol, at least he got Javaris Crittenton (who was considered a prospect with upside at the time) and Pau’s brother, Marc, who turned out to be a productive center for the Grizzlies.

Then I wake up today to see that the Cavs and Suns have agreed to go through with that long-rumored trade that will send Shaq to Cleveland for salary cap relief. Who do the Suns get in return? A retiree (Ben Wallace), a bench player with a partially guaranteed contract (Sasha Pavlovic), some cash and a second round pick.

This is the going rate for a Third Team All-NBA center these days.

We knew that this summer had the potential to be a rough one for free agents, but it’s a little surprising to see that good players like O’Neal and Jefferson could be had for virtually nothing. Bucks owner Herb Kohl and Suns owner Robert Sarver realize that their clubs aren’t legitimate contenders, so they don’t see the point in paying the luxury tax just for the privilege of being knocked out in the first round of the playoffs. What kind of an effect these moves have on season ticket purchases remains to be seen.

The bottom line is that if a team is willing to spend, there has never been a better time to acquire talent. You’re not going to get someone like Caron Butler, who plays for a (pretend) contender and has a reasonable contract, but you can get Jefferson, who is overpaid and is on a mediocre team that is up against the luxury tax. And the older the player, the more likely he’s available. Teams aren’t going to give up good players that are in their early- or mid-twenties because the plan is to rebuild before they’re over the hill.

So who might be on the move for a bag of peanuts and some salary cap flexibility? How about Tracy McGrady, Baron Davis, Chris Kaman, Marcus Camby, Vince Carter, Tyson Chandler, Amare Stoudemire, Jermaine O’Neal, Michael Redd, Ray Allen or Rip Hamilton?

Truth be told, a team like the Suns isn’t going to give the youngish Stoudemire away for cap flexibility alone. But as the price of a star goes down, the price of superstar goes down as well.

It promises to be an interesting summer.

NBA trade deadline scuttlebutt

Rich Bucher reports that the Warriors have offered up Andris Biedrins and Anthony Randolph for Chris Bosh, and presumably made a similar offer to the Suns for Amare Stoudemire…J.A. Adande has a source that says that there is a “zero” chance that Stoudemire lands with the Raptors. It seems that Toronto is just not ready to move Bosh, even for a shot at Amare…Henry Abbott says that while most teams are overvaluing their players right now, there are two teams — Golden State and Chicago — that are ready to deal…The Arlington Heights Daily Herald reports that the Suns may actually prefer Tyrus Thomas over standout rookie Michael Beasley… says that Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Cleveland are all interested in acquiring Vince Carter, but that it’s unlikely that the Nets will send him to an Eastern Conference team… reports that since the Cavs will be without Sasha Pavlovic for 4-6 weeks that the team is probably going to stand pat with the roster they have. Wally Szczerbiak has been playing better of late and the team believes in its roster… David Aldridge says that despite their denials, the Clippers are very interested in trading Chris Kaman.

2008 NBA Preview: #25 Los Angeles Clippers

Offseason Movement: Much has been written about the Clippers tumultuous summer. Out are franchise cornerstones Elton Brand and Corey Maggette and in are Baron Davis and Marcus Camby. For a while, it looked as if Davis would join Brand to give the Clippers a formidable one-two punch, but Brand elected to sign a big deal with the Sixers after the Clippers’ front office apparently ruffled the feathers of Brand’s agent, David Falk. The Clippers recovered (somewhat) by stealing Marcus Camby away from the Nuggets in a salary dump.
Keep Your Eye On: Eric Gordon, G
The team took Gordon #7 overall in the 2008 draft, and with Maggette gone, there’s a lot of opportunity for playing time. Cuttino Mobley provides a veteran presence at off guard, but if Gordon shows maturity, he could usurp the vet before season’s end.
The Big Question: Will Brand’s departure doom the Clippers to mediocrity?
The Clippers are now featuring a 29 year-old oft-injured point guard (Davis) alongside two centers, Camby and Chris Kaman. While the Camby deal was a savvy one, I’m not sure how he and Kaman are going to play alongside each other in today’s smaller-is-better NBA. The youth movement consists of Al Thornton (who was decent in his rookie season) and Gordon. The Clippers are going to need great play out of both of those players to be a factor in the Western Conference playoff race.
Outlook: Grim. There seems to be a rain cloud over the franchise now that Brand is gone. Davis is their best player and he’s almost 30 and hasn’t had much success in the playoffs. With the current roster, the Clippers will be competitive, but unless they really gel or one of their young players (Thornton or Gordon) turns into an All-Star caliber player, it’s highly doubtful that the Clips will be fighting for a playoff spot come April.

Check out our NBA Preview page for a look at every team. We’ll be posting three previews per business day, which will take us up to the start of the season on Tuesday, October 28th.

Redeem Team coasts by the Germans

Real German Dirk Nowitzki and fake German Chris Kaman were no match for the U.S. men’s basketball team, who trounced Deutschland, 106-57.

The U.S. is three wins away from its first gold medal since 2000. First up is Australia in the quarterfinals on Wednesday night.

The U.S. didn’t wait to dispose of the Germans. The U.S. jumped out to a 20-3 lead, with LeBron James capping the run with a dunk, a bucket and a 3-pointer.

The U.S. led 53-29 at halftime, and the rest of the night was garbage time.

Asked afterward what it will take to beat the U.S., the American-born German center Chris Kaman replied, “No one’s gonna beat ’em.”

Once again, defense was the story for the U.S. The Americans limited Germany to 30 percent shooting from the floor and forced 18 turnovers.

Team USA shot 42% from long range, which is encouraging, but they need to take that accuracy with them into the medal round. They still make careless passes at times, and their 13 turnovers against a team like Germany are too many.

On a side note, Chris Kaman has been criticized for deciding to play with the Germans in these Olympics. Even his dad isn’t happy about it. I’m not happy about it either. I think, in a way, he’s betraying his country. It’s a positive for Chris Kaman the basketball player to have the opportunity to play against good competition in the summer, but he’s working against U.S. interests. If you’re born and raised in the U.S., you’re not good enough to make the U.S. team, and even your dad says you shouldn’t play for another country, then you should probably just stay home.

U.S. begins the round of eight against Australia at 8 AM ET Wednesday morning (on the USA Network). The Aussies gave the U.S. men a tough game in a warm-up match, and they didn’t even have a healthy Andrew Bogut in that game. Argentina and Greece square off in the other quarterfinal on the Americans’ side of the bracket.

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