PORTLAND — The Portland Trail Blazers will keep center Chris Kaman for the immediate future. The deadline to waive him and the $4 million in non-guaranteed money has passed and Kaman will get his full $5 million in salary next season.
Kaman is at least the fourth big man that is slated to be on Portland’s roster next season. However, the Blazers could always trade him, in theory.
The other three big men on the roster are Meyers Leonard, Mason Plumlee and Noah Vonleh.
The Blazers also have free-agent big men including LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez, both of whom are going to be wooed by several other teams.
Kaman was a valuable addition to the Blazers last season.
The 12-year veteran played 74 games, which is the most he’s played since the 2009-10 season. He provided a scoring punch off the bench early in the season.
Kaman’s contributions on the court were not the only thing he brought to the Blazers.
His friendship and mentorship of Meyers Leonard was cited as a reason why Leonard improved so much in his third season.
While that judgment sells Leonard’s hard work and talent a little short, there is no doubt that Kaman was his first real mentor in the league as an active player.
Kaman said that he sees a lot of his younger self in Leonard.
Both also have a very close relationship with assistant coach Kim Hughes, who coached Kaman when he started his NBA career with the Clippers.
A Western Conference executive with knowledge of the Aldridge pursuit told The Columbian last week that Aldridge had already informed Portland he wouldn’t be back.
The Blazers have publicly maintained that they have a shot to sign Aldridge to a 5-year max deal worth $108 million, but it appears that the lure of that may not be enough.
Joel Freeland now unrestricted free agent
The Portland Trail Blazers did not extend a qualifying offer to center Joel Freeland by 9 p.m. Tuesday, making him an unrestricted free-agent.
Freeland has fully enjoyed his time in Portland, which he considers a second home. But with the Blazers not giving him the qualifying offer, he will be free to pursue other opportunities.
A source familiar with the British big man’s situation told The Columbian that Freeland’s desire — should he and Portland part ways — is to stay in the NBA. If he returns to Europe, it would ideally be for a top Euroleague club.