Thursday, July 17, 2008
Sources: Clips sign swingman Azubuike to three-year offer sheet
By Marc Stein
LAS VEGAS -- The Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday identified the latest target in their recovery from the free-agent loss of Elton Brand by signing restricted free agent Kelenna Azubuike of the Golden State Warriors to an offer sheet.
NBA front-office sources told ESPN.com that the Clippers -- using their estimated $3 million in salary-cap space left over after completing a trade Tuesday with the Denver Nuggets to acquire center Marcus Camby as their primary Brand replacement -- have awarded Azubuike a three-year deal worth an estimated $9 million.
The Warriors will have seven days to match the offer, but the Clippers would appear to have a good chance of emerging from that wait with Azubuike. Although the England-born swingman was beginning to blossom under coach Don Nelson in Oakland, Golden State has Monta Ellis, Corey Maggette and Stephen Jackson ahead of Azubuike in Nelson's rotation as well as 2007 first-round pick Marco Belinelli.
"Kelenna is a guy who's worked his way up," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said by telephone from Las Vegas, where the Clippers have a summer league team. "He's very athletic, he's a good shooter, a good defender and a good all-around kid."
Azubuike is still developing after just two seasons in the league but has shown flashes of the ability to score from the wing that the Clippers need after Maggette signed a five-year deal worth an estimated $50 million with Golden State last week.
"He can play some [shooting guard], he can play some [small forward]," Dunleavy said.
Going to Los Angeles would reunite Azubuike with new Clippers guard Baron Davis after they spent the bulk of the past two seasons together with the Warriors.
Golden State, meanwhile, will learn Friday whether it can finally add Los Angeles Lakers restricted free agent Ronny Turiaf to its roster. The Lakers are widely expected not to match the Warriors' four-year, $17 million offer sheet to the energetic power forward with promising center Andrew Bynum scheduled to rejoin the team in training camp and partner with Pau Gasol on L.A.'s front line.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.