Free agent forward Jamaal Wilkes, cut loose by the Lakers less than a month ago, is close to signing a contract with the Clippers.
Wilkes, who had surgery on torn ligaments in his left knee last February, passed a physical examination conducted by Clipper team doctor Tony Daly Tuesday afternoon. After hearing the report, Clipper General Manager Carl Scheer said he hopes to sign Wilkes as soon as Thursday.
"The negotiations shouldn't be that difficult because the Lakers are picking up most of his salary," Scheer said.
If Wilkes signs with the Clippers, it will be for $70,000, the National Basketball Assn. minimum. The Lakers, who put Wilkes on waivers Aug. 28, will assume the remainder of his $860,000 per year contract.
Clipper Coach Don Chaney watched Wilkes play Tuesday at UCLA and talked to Wilkes about signing with the Clippers.
"I saw him play this summer (in the pro summer league at Loyola Marymount), and you could tell the knee hadn't been fully rehabilitated," Chaney said. "Today, I saw an unbelievable difference in his stability and strength. Jamaal played surprisingly well. He didn't favor it, which players sometimes do after surgery.