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Chris Kaman agrees to Lakers contract

Los Angeles Lakers Bryant shoots over Dallas Mavericks Kaman during their NBA game in Dallas

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (R) shoots over Dallas Mavericks center Chris Kaman during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Dallas, Texas November 24, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

REUTERS

The Lakers, by definition, were going to downgrade their center position, because they just lost the NBA’s best center. The only question was how big the downgrade would be.

In comparison to Dwight Howard, it’s pretty big.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

Kaman is a pretty uninspiring choice, though it’s not as if there were more inspiring options available. The Lakers have no cap space, and amnestying Metta World Peace would have meant only a slightly larger mid-level exception to use on a free agent.

The Lakers barely made the playoffs last season with an old team and Howard. Now, they’re even older, missing Howard and will likely be without Kobe Bryant for a large part of the season. Kaman, 31, probably won’t turn that downward trajectory, but he at least slows it.

Kaman is a good mid-range shooter for his size, and he should fit well with Pau Gasol. Kaman’s size and strength make him an effective post defender, but he struggles to guard pick-and-rolls.

He’s OK, and that’s about all the Lakers could afford financially. If they’re trying to make the playoffs, I’m not sure they can afford such a downgrade on the court, though.