New Laker Chris Kaman surprised, happy to be back in Los Angeles


The Lakers officially introduced center Chris Kaman on Tuesday.

“For me, I thought it was a comfortable fit. I knew L.A. I know people in L.A,” said Kaman. The Lakers “have a great organization run by a great group of people.”

Kaman signed a one-year, $3.2-million contract with the Lakers on Friday.


Now 31 years old, Kaman was drafted in 2003 by the Clippers with the sixth overall pick.

“I never thought I would be back here” in Los Angeles, said Kaman. “You don’t anticipate being traded. It just happens -- it’s out of your control.”

An All-Star in 2010, Kaman was traded in 2011 to the New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans) in the Chris Paul trade. New Orleans was rebuilding, focused more on developing young players than winning with established veterans.

“It was a tough experience. It was a learning experience for me,” Kaman said. “When you’re eight years in the same place, the organization -- you know how they work and how everything goes.”

“Were excited to have him with the Lakers,” said General Manager Mitch Kupchak. “I think [he’s] an underrated defender.”

“Offensively with what we do here in Los Angeles, I think he’s going to fit in really well with pick and rolls, pick and pops,” continued Kupchak. “He’s very versatile down in the low post. He can score with his left hand and his right hand. We think he’s going to fit in.”

The Lakers were in need of a center once Dwight Howard chose to leave for the Houston Rockets.

“Waiting for Dwight to make his decision kind of jammed up a little bit for the big guys,” said Kaman about free agency, after a year with the Dallas Mavericks.

The veteran center averaged 10.5 points a game in 66 appearances. After playing with Dirk Nowitzki, Kaman wants to see what it’s like to be a teammate of Kobe Bryant.

“I want to see what the big deal is,” he said. “Everybody know his mentality is different than most players and that’s why he’s where he’s at.”

Kaman also hopes to mesh with Pau Gasol in the Lakers’ frontcourt.

“I don’t know how it’s going to work. I know Coach [Mike] D’Antoni’s offense is a little bit different than most coaches,” said Kaman. “I like his style -- a lot up and down tempo -- Steve Nash, a lot of pick and rolls.”

“I’m confident that I’ll get along with coach and we’ll have a good relationship. It’s a two-way street,” he said. “You’ve got to flex a little and he has to flex a little but I’m not a very controversial kind of guy.”

Is he willing to come off the bench behind Gasol?

“It doesn’t matter to me. I’m here to do a job and whatever it is, I’ll do it,” he said.

Kaman noted he’s been healthy for most of the last two seasons. He believes he can get back to where he was with the Clippers.

“I feel confident I can be at that level. Whether or not I’m an All-Star or not, I can’t say,” noted Kaman. “You get hurt or something will set you back -- one year and people will forget about you.”

Kaman will wear No. 9 with the Lakers, switching from his customary 35.

“Change it up a little bit,” said Kaman, noting the number has “zero significance.”

The 7-footer is also looking for a home.

“A week and a half, literally, before I decided to make my decision to come here -- I closed on my house in Manhattan Beach that I had had for five years,” he said. “I’ve got to find a rental. Anybody know a rental, let me know -- South Bay please.”

Kaman wouldn’t give his expectation for the team next season, but he said he’s looking forward to reestablishing himself as an impact player.

“I don’t think the team is complete. I don’t think they’ve filled all the spots,” he said. “I think you’ll get a better for that once Kobe gets back -- once the guys get back and, you get the full roster and everybody gets together.”


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