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Kaman could be a keeper elsewhere

You can forget about blowing the whistle on ageism in sports.

After all, it's not only accepted it's expected.

If you were wondering why the New Orleans Hornets are actively trying to trade center Chris Kaman, understand the former All-Star is about to cross a very important threshold on April 28 of this year -- his 30th birthday.

Thirtysomethings simply do not fit into rebuilding plans and at a Western Conference-worst 4-15 the Hornets are resigned to starting one.

New Orleans, of course, acquired Kaman back in December as part of the blockbuster deal that sent the face of the franchise, Chris Paul, to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Even then most thought the Big Easy was just a transitory stop for the former Central Michigan star with the conventional wisdom believing the Hornets acquired an asset to move before the March 15 trade deadline.

And Kaman remains an alluring piece to a number of puzzles. He's got skill and perhaps more importantly, an expiring deal worth just over $14 million this season.

Already the oldest player on the Hornets' roster Kaman quickly fell out of Monty Williams' rotation in favor of Jason Smith and promising Mexican Gustavo Ayon.

"It's just something (where) we want to play our young guys and we certainly don't want to disrespect Chris at all," Williams told the media before Friday's upset against the Magic. "This is something we want to keep internally. It's certainly not disciplinary and he understands and I talked to him.

"We're going to play Jason Smith, Gustavo Ayon and Al-Farouq Aminu. It's just difficult to play that many bigs and I understand how difficult it is for (Kaman) to not get the minutes he wants."

It didn't stay internal for long. By the third quarter Hornets GM Dell Demps had released a statement.

"We've informed Chris that we are looking into possible trades and he was understanding about the situation," Demps said. "We're working together on this. Chris has been the ultimate professional since he joined us.

"In no way is this a disciplinary action. We had discussions about extending his current contract when he first came to the Hornets, but the organization decided to go in a different direction."

Since Kaman was not with the team on Friday, it was easy to speculate that perhaps he had run afoul of either Williams or Demps. I mean, it's one thing to bench a guy for a youth movement but it's another to jettison him from practice and his teammates.

The "ultimate professional" as Demps described Kaman wouldn't be happy losing minutes, perhaps, but he certainly wouldn't want to stop working either.

New Orleans is trying to spin things as best it can, fueling rumors that the club approached Kaman and his agent, Rob Pelinka, once they settled on the youth movement. From there both sides reportedly agreed that Kaman would be deactivated until a trade is consummated.

On the surface that seems a bit far-fetched but Kaman has certainly been injury prone and giving him mop-up minutes here and there could be a risk to any potential deal, something neither Kaman or the Hornets would want.

Either way, New Orleans isn't exactly going to get a king's ransom for a player that is seemingly on the downside, has lost minutes to a pedestrian player like Smith and could be complaining.

On the other hand, in a league short on competent big man, it's not outlandish to think one or two teams might remember 2007-08, Kaman's breakout season with the Clippers when he averaged 15.7 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game. And remember as late as '09-10 he averaged 18.5 ppg and 9.3 rpg.

Building for the future is what the Hornets are all about now but others are concerned with competing and renting a 7-footer that can play could pay dividends.