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Clippers sign Hedo Turkoglu ahead of seven-game trip

The 6-foot-10 forward agrees to a contract for the remainder of the season for about $717,000. The Clippers release Maalik Wayns and sign Darius Morris to a second 10-day contract.

January 16, 2014|By Ben Bolch

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The math is simple for Doc Rivers: Seven games in seven cities means he'll have to pack seven suits.

The Clippers' coach gave up on mixing and matching outfits on long trips awhile back.

"I tried that once," Rivers said, "and I thought I had black pants and the jacket was black and I almost got away with it and a player on another team noticed it."

The Clippers will also have to tote an extra set of uniforms after signing free-agent forward Hedo Turkoglu as expected Thursday, giving them a different look on a lengthy trip that starts Friday against the New York Knicks.

Turkoglu agreed to a contract for the rest of the season that will pay him about $717,000, which is a prorated portion of the veteran's minimum.

Turkoglu will give the Clippers a 6-foot-10 veteran with excellent ballhandling skills and shooting touch. He also has extensive playoff experience, having reached the NBA Finals in 2009 with the Orlando Magic.

"He's another shooter," Rivers said Wednesday before his team's come-from-behind 129-127 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. "He can space the floor."

The Clippers released guard Maalik Wayns to clear a roster spot for Turkoglu and signed guard Darius Morris to a second consecutive 10-day contract.

Turkoglu, who turns 35 in March, became a free agent this month after the Magic waived him in a move that saved the team $6 million. He hasn't played since last February because of injuries, a 20-game suspension for testing positive for an anabolic steroid and the Magic's decision to use younger players.

Turkoglu could make his Clippers debut Friday when the team plays the Knicks at Madison Square Garden to start its second seven-game trip in two months.

It's only the second time in franchise history the Clippers will have made a pair of seven-game trips in the same season. The Clippers were 4-3 last month on their first extended trip — and that was with point guard Chris Paul, who will be sidelined another month after separating his shoulder against Dallas on Jan. 3.

"We struggled last time, to be honest with you," said Clippers forward Jared Dudley, "and now we'll see our improvement going through this road trip."

The NBA schedule makers did their part to make the Clippers' travels as smooth as possible by scheduling every game on the trip against teams from the dreadful Eastern Conference. Only two of the teams the Clippers will face currently have winning records.

After playing the Knicks, the Clippers will play at Indiana on Saturday, Detroit on Monday, Charlotte on Wednesday, Chicago on Jan. 24, Toronto on Jan. 25 and Milwaukee on Jan. 27.

The Clippers enter the trip without Paul but retain considerable momentum after four consecutive victories, including a wildly entertaining comeback against Dallas in which they scored the game's final 11 points.

There was also a prickly exchange between the Clippers' Blake Griffin and the Mavericks' Samuel Dalembert after they fought for a rebound in the fourth quarter. Dalembert earned a technical foul and won't be receiving any friend requests on social media from the Clippers after stepping on shooting guard J.J. Redick's head earlier in the game, resulting in a cut in Redick's ear.

Redick didn't flinch, making a late three-pointer to help his team rally from a 17-point deficit in the final five minutes. He finished with a career-high 33 points.

The Clippers hope they will carry the resolve they showed against the Mavericks with them for the duration of their trip.

"It's going to be tough being on the road, the same situation without our point guard," Griffin said, "but guys have to step up and guys have shown that we can do that."

Twitter: @latbbolch

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