Chris Kaman can help now, won't hurt later

Finally a dose of good news during this miserable Mavs offseason: There will be a reunion of the German Olympic team’s frontcourt in Dallas.

Center Chris Kaman will sign a one-year deal to join his friend Dirk Nowitzki next season.

OK, so Kaman isn’t the former All-Star the Mavs wanted this summer. And he wasn’t even tops on the list of Dirk pals that they targeted. But he is a quality center who can help the Mavs in their quest to extend their dozen-year playoff streak. It’s not a stretch to call Kaman the best offensive big man in Mavs history, although it is faint praise for a guy who averaged 18.5 points a few seasons ago.

More importantly, Kaman won’t prevent the Mavs from resuming their mission to find a legitimate superstar to pair with Nowitzki next summer. He’s coming to Dallas on a one-year deal for $8 million.

It’s to be determined if the addition of the injury-prone Kaman, a 30-year-old who averaged 13.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 47 games for the Hornets last season, means that the Mavs will move on from Brendan Haywood.

If the Mavs don’t use the amnesty clause on Haywood, Kaman’s salary would eat up the rest of their salary-cap space this summer, but they would have the midlevel and biannual exceptions to use on free agents. It might be wise to keep Haywood around, considering that Kaman has been sidelined for large chunks of four of the past five seasons.

(UPDATE: The Mavs will use the amnesty clause on Haywood, a source said. That frees up room to make a strong bid on Elton Brand in the amnesty waivers process.)

Kaman’s addition doesn’t make the Mavs a contender, but he can help them compete for a playoff spot. And the Mavs keep their powder dry for next summer.

That makes this a solid move for the Mavs in a summer that will be remembered for a spectacular swing and miss.