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Williams' signing leaves Livingston out

August 08, 2008|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

The Clippers added more experience to their backcourt Thursday when they signed veteran point guard Jason Williams to a one-year contract.

Williams, 32, averaged 8.8 points and 4.6 assists in 67 games with the Miami Heat last season and will make the Clippers his fourth NBA team.

"He's a proven player who has been a starter in this league," Clippers General Manager Elgin Baylor said about Williams, who was drafted seventh overall by Sacramento in 1998. "He brings experience and he's a very good playmaker."

By signing Williams, the Clippers basically eliminated themselves from re-signing point guard Shaun Livingston, who still has not been cleared for basketball as he recovers from a knee injury suffered in February 2007.

Livingston, who did not receive a qualifying offer from the Clippers after the season, recently turned down a reported one-year guaranteed deal from the team.

"At this point and time, we had to move on," Baylor said about re-signing Livingston. "Shaun is not ready to make a commitment."

So the Clippers turned to Williams, who was ranked eighth in the league last season with a 3.37 assists-to-turnover ratio.

Williams will join three other guards the Clippers picked up during the off-season: Baron Davis, who signed as a free agent from Golden State; former Miami teammate Ricky Davis, who signed with the Clippers earlier this summer; and former Inglewood High standout Jason Hart.

"When you go through a season, the toughest position to fill is the point guard position," Coach Mike Dunleavy said.

Williams, who attracted interest from several NBA teams and also received an offer from Israel's Maccabi Tel Aviv, has averaged 11.4 points and 6.3 assists in his career. He won a championship with the Heat in 2006.

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lonnie.white@latimes.com

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