- Ramona Shelburne, ESPN Senior Writer
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While the Clippers have inquired about the availability of several "available" shooting guards after the season-ending injury to Chauncey Billups, they are reluctant to pay too steep a price unless they can find a deal that moves them closer to contending for a title this year and in the future, general manager Neil Olshey told ESPNLosAngeles.com.
"We're willing to do anything we can to move needle this year," Olshey said. "But unless it's piece for the future that also gives us to win a championship this year, we're not going to give up our longterm flexibility and assets to do that."
The price for the top shooting guards being mentioned in trade talks this spring -- Boston's Ray Allen, Portland's Jamal Crawford and Washington's Nick Young -- has so far been too high for the Clippers.
Most teams have asked for some combination of young point guard Eric Bledsoe, a future first-round pick and the expiring contracts of Randy Foye or Brian Cook.
That's a steep price to pay for players the team could simply pursue as free agents this summer. Only Crawford could potentially be under contract next year, but he'd have to amend his contract and terminate his player option for 2012-13 similar to the way Williams did when he was acquired in a trade with Cleveland last February.
The Clippers don't have a first-round pick in this years' draft, having swapped it with Oklahoma City in 2010 for the right to select Bledsoe. The Thunder subsequently included that pick in a trade with Boston which netted them center Kendrick Perkins.
Although Bledsoe has seen limited action this year due to injury (knee) and playing behind Chris Paul, Billups and Mo Williams, his value around the league is high with so many teams looking for young point guards and the dearth of them in the upcoming draft.
It's for that reason the Clippers fought so hard to exclude Bledsoe from the trade with the New Orleans Hornets that brought Paul to Los Angeles back in December. He's also an important insurance policy for the Clippers should Williams opt-out of the final year of his contract this summer.
While the team would be open to bringing Billups (Achilles) back in some capacity next season, he's got such a long recovery ahead of him it's impossible to count on that option right now.
The Clippers are counting on Billups to rejoin them at some point though. As soon as he's past the initial stage of his recovery, he's expected to rejoin them on the bench and in the locker room to add the leadership and gravitas he immediately brought to the team after being waived by the Knicks.
While the Clippers have inquired about the availability of several "available" shooting guards after the season-ending injury to Chauncey Billups, they are reluctant to pay too steep a price unless they can find a deal that moves them closer to contending for a title this year and in the future, general manager Neil Olshey told ESPNLosAngeles.