Clippers President Andy Roeser congratulates Lamar Odom on his return… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
The Clippers filled one big void when they acquired Lamar Odom from the Dallas Mavericks on Friday in a four-team trade that sent Mo Williams to the Utah Jazz but didn't take long to go back to work on improving the roster.
As the Clippers introduced Odom on Monday at a news conference, the 6-foot-10 forward said it was "déjà vu all over again" for him to return to the team that drafted him in 1999.
Afterward, Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro, President Andy Roeser and director of player personnel Gary Sacks worked the phones, getting free-agent guard Jamal Crawford to agree to visit the team's practice facility Tuesday, according to NBA executives who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
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The Clippers plan on offering the 6-5 Crawford the mid-level exception that starts at $5 million, for three years, executives said.
The Clippers also are planning on offering a contract to Chauncey Billups. Billups, who is recovering from a torn left Achilles' tendon injury, will get a one-year offer from the Clippers for up to $4.3 million if he reaches bonuses.
The Clippers also are interested in center Ryan Hollins for the veteran's minimum of about $1.1 million.
In Odom, the Clippers get a backup big man who can play behind Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
"Of course there is some unfinished business as a Clipper," Odom said. "I got to watch from afar, watch them build what many consider now a program and build tradition…They've just done things the right way. It's my pleasure to be a part of it, how they are doing things now."
Odom said he has withdrawn from trying out for the U.S. Olympic basketball team this week, preferring to work out at the Clippers' facility, meaning Team USA is still short on post players.
After a nice talk, Del Negro had no reservations about trading for Odom.
"At the end of the conversation, I just felt that he was committed and wanted to be back in a Clipper uniform," Del Negro said. "And that's what I wanted to see."
Odom had his worst season as a 13-year professional in his 50 games with the Mavericks last year, after he was acquired from the Lakers. He averaged career lows in points (6.6), rebounds (4.2), assists (1.7), minutes (20.5), shooting percentage (35.2%) and three-point shooting (25.2%).
"Sometimes you play good, sometimes you play bad," Odom said. "I guess my spurt of playing bad, I guess I got it over with. You won't really ever see that again.
"My focus on basketball is there. There's a lot of things I want to make right, and I know what kind of player I am. I just want to get back to that level. I told Coach that I'm 100% in on whatever he needs and wants to be done. I'll be his soldier."