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NBA

Crawford to aid Clippers' backcourt

The team is adding the free-agent guard and re-signing Billups, building on the recent acquisition of Odom.

July 06, 2012|Broderick Turner
  • NBA veterans Chauncey Billups (1) and Jamal Crawford give the Clippers plenty of firepower in their backcourt.
NBA veterans Chauncey Billups (1) and Jamal Crawford give the Clippers… (Los Angeles Times and Associated…)

If there was any doubt that the Clippers remain serious about changing the culture of their franchise, perhaps they put it to rest Thursday.

Free-agent guard Jamal Crawford agreed to a contract with the Clippers and the team reached a deal to re-sign veteran Chauncey Billups, according to NBA executives who were not authorized to speak publicly on the situation.

The deals will fill holes in the Clippers' backcourt.

The Clippers used their full mid-level exception to offer the 6-foot-5 Crawford a four-year deal worth $21.7 million. On Tuesday, Crawford visited the Clippers' practice facility and the team originally offered him a three-year deal for $15.7 million.

Meanwhile, the 6-3 Billups will sign a one-year contract that could be worth up to $4.3 million if he reaches certain bonuses.

Billups played in only 20 of 66 games during the lockout-shortened season for the Clippers before tearing his left Achilles' tendon in February.

Like all free agents, Crawford and Billups can't sign their contracts until the NBA's moratorium ends Wednesday.

After getting Crawford and Billups into the fold, the Clippers canceled a meeting with free-agent shooting guard Ray Allen scheduled for Friday.

So in a week's time, the Clippers have made significant upgrades to their team, led by All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, that reached the Western Conference semifinals.

On June 29, the Clippers acquired forward Lamar Odom from the Dallas Mavericks -- sending guard Mo Williams to the Utah Jazz in a four-team trade -- to get the versatile big man they desired.

Crawford was available because he opted out of his $5.2-million contract with the Portland Trail Blazers to become an unrestricted free agent.

The 32-year-old Crawford gives the Clippers the size in the backcourt they lacked last season and another scorer.

Crawford averaged 13.9 points per game last season in Portland, and has averaged 15.3 points over his 12-year NBA career. He shot 30.9% from three-point range last season and is at 34.8% over his career.

Crawford, who has played for five teams, was the NBA's sixth man of the year in 2010 with the Atlanta Hawks. He will probably start at shooting guard until Billups returns from his injury.

Billups, 36, averaged 15 points for the Clippers last season and is hopeful that he'll be back in December.

The Clippers will have 11 players on their roster after Crawford and Billups sign.

The team still has an interest in signing free-agent center Ryan Hollins to a veteran's minimum contract for about $1.07 million.

Hollins, 27, a 7-footer who went to UCLA, last season played with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics.

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broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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