The Clippers traded veteran Antawn Jamison to the Atlanta Hawks for the… (Ethan Miller / Getty Images )
The Clippers made a pair of minor trades shortly before Thursday's deadline, dealing veteran forward Antawn Jamison to the Atlanta Hawks and reserve center Byron Mullens to the Philadelphia 76ers in moves that brought them closer to the luxury tax threshold while opening a pair of roster spots.
They traded Jamison and an undisclosed sum of cash to Atlanta for the rights to Cenk Akyol, a 6-foot-7 forward who was the Hawks' second-round draft pick in 2005 but has never appeared in the NBA and now plays in Turkey.
The Clippers traded Mullens and a future second-round draft pick to the 76ers for a conditional second-round pick.
The departures of Jamison, who was making the veteran's minimum salary of $1.4 million, and Mullens, who was making about $1 million, lowered the Clippers' payroll to $72.5 million, slightly above the tax threshold of $71.7 million for this season. Jamison, 37, and Mullens, 25, were in their first season with Clippers.
"That's more [salary] cap relief for the summer," said Clippers Coach Doc Rivers, who is also the team's senior vice president of basketball operations. "From a coaching standpoint, to do a move that is not necessarily making your team better are very difficult moves, but from a team standpoint it was the right thing to do because it gives us a little more cap relief."
Jamison and Mullens both disembarked from the Clippers' charter flight, bound for Memphis, before it left Los Angeles International Airport.
"Yeah, just found out I was traded," Jamison said in a text to The Times. "Getting off plane now."
A proposed trade with the New York Knicks involving Clippers backup point guard Darren Collison and small forward Matt Barnes as well as Knicks shooting guard Iman Shumpert and point guard Raymond Felton did not materialize. Shumpert sprained his left knee Wednesday night and is expected to be sidelined about two weeks.
Barnes said he was constantly refreshing Twitter while the Clippers' plane hovered on the LAX tarmac to find out if he was traded.
"I was sweating the whole time," Barnes said. "Someone said the trade was official, so I said, 'OK, I'm out of here.' And then Blake [Griffin] said, 'No, I just saw it's not official.' So I'm like, 'Maybe I'm not out of here.' "
The trades involving Jamison and Mullens leave the Clippers thin at the power forward and center spots, with only Ryan Hollins as a backup to Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
Former Atlanta power forward Ivan Johnson recently worked out for the Clippers but did not impress those in attendance, according to a league executive who spoke on condition of anonymity because the workout was private. Johnson averaged 6.5 points and 3.9 rebounds for the Hawks during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons before playing for the Zhejiang Golden Bulls of the Chinese Basketball Assn.
Other big man options for the Clippers include Glen "Big Baby" Davis, who reportedly was negotiating a buyout with the Orlando Magic, and free agent Jason Collins, both of whom previously played for Rivers with the Boston Celtics. The Clippers could have competition for Collins from the Brooklyn Nets, who reportedly were considering signing him to a 10-day contract.
Collins, the first openly gay player in major professional sports, has been working out in Los Angeles in hopes of signing with a team.
Rivers said earlier this week that he would also consider signing guard Sasha Vujacic to a second 10-day contract to add roster depth. But Rivers said he was in no rush to add to a roster that now stands at 12 players and that he would consider the best available players at all positions, not just in the frontcourt.
"I'm looking for anything — the best wing player, the best big player, the best preacher, if he has power … whatever it takes is what we're doing," Rivers said.
Jamison and Mullens were both largely disappointments after signing with the Clippers over the summer.
Jamison, a two-time All-Star, was averaging a career-low 3.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in only 11.3 minutes per game. Mullens was averaging 2.5 points and 1.2 rebounds in 6.2 minutes.
"I think Antawn did everything we asked him to do," Rivers said. "What I really decided was, if we're going to go small, I like Duds [Jared Dudley] at that position more rather than a four with his ability to stretch the floor and then we bring in Turk [Hedo Turkoglu]."