The Clippers moved to reach a long-term contract agreement with Chris Kaman on Sunday night, offering the productive 7-foot center a five-year, $50-million extension, team sources said.
Coach Mike Dunleavy made the guaranteed offer to Kaman’s agent, Rob Pelinka, after the team’s final day of training camp at Santa Barbara City College. Attempts to contact Dunleavy, Pelinka and Kaman late Sunday were unsuccessful.
It was unclear whether Kaman and Pelinka had discussed the offer and informed the Clippers of a decision. Under NBA rules, Kaman has until Oct. 31 to accept.
If the offer is rejected, Kaman would become a restricted free agent after this season, and the Clippers could match any offer he received from another team. Kaman, who has a salary of almost $3.5 million in the final season of his contract, also could decline the offer, sign a one-year deal with the Clippers this summer and become an unrestricted free agent after the 2007-08 season.
The Clippers waited until All-Star power forward Elton Brand and swingman Corey Maggette signed offer sheets with other teams before matching. They decided, however, to take a proactive approach with Kaman.
Owner Donald T. Sterling, General Manager Elgin Baylor, Dunleavy and Andy Roeser, executive vice president, agreed last week on a proposal that would average $10 million, and Dunleavy made the Clippers’ pitch. Kaman’s salary would increase to about $8.5 million next season, and the offer also includes bonuses tied to Kaman’s performance, the sources said.
Despite their hope to retain Kaman, the Clippers probably would not offer Kaman a much bigger contract because of their salary-cap strategy.
The team is positioned to offer backup point guard Shaun Livingston a similar multiyear extension before the 2007-08 season, and it would approach the luxury-tax threshold if Kaman had more than a $10-million average on the books.
Last season, Kaman, 24, had personal-best averages of 11.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.38 blocked shots. In 32.8 minutes, he shot 52.3% from the floor and 77% from the free-throw line. The team’s 2003 first-round draft pick, and sixth overall, has increased his averages each season under Dunleavy.
Based on recent contracts signed by centers with comparable statistics, Kaman might receive as much as $12 million a season on the open market, but there could be risks to rejecting the team’s proposal. Kaman could suffer an injury or might not receive offers more lucrative than what the Clippers have on the table.
Moreover, Kaman also has a good relationship with the coaching staff, especially Dunleavy and assistant Kim Hughes. Kaman and Hughes are so close that some in the organization refer to Kaman as Hughes’ son, and Kaman has credited Hughes with much of his development.