Clips match DeAndre Jordan offer

Updated: December 12, 2011, 11:10 PM ET
By Ramona Shelburne | ESPNLosAngeles.com

The Los Angeles Clippers matched the four-year, $43 million offer sheet restricted free agent center DeAndre Jordan signed with the Golden State Warriors on Sunday afternoon.

The teams announced the move Monday.

Jordan, 23, averaged 7.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks last season. Although they are paying a high price, retaining Jordan was considered a key for the Clippers long-term strategy because of his defensive abilities and close relationship with star forward Blake Griffin.

Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said Jordan is worth it.

"The expectations are so high at those type of numbers, but if you really know the game and understand that DeAndre brings a defensive presence for us. Shot-blocking, he runs the court well," Del Negro said. "He's very young still, he's only going to get better. Blake and him play off each other well. He brings you an athletic, big dynamic that we're fortunate to have.

"People have a tendency to look at the contract more so than the intangibles that guys like DeAndre bring."

The Clippers matched the offer sheet to Jordan about an hour after they claimed point guard Chauncey Billups off of waivers from the New York Knicks, who had used the amnesty provision of the new collective bargaining agreement on his contract.

Clippers general manager Neil Olshey had hinted at these moves when he spoke to reporters earlier in the day.

"There are strategic reasons, there are some sequential transactions that have to happen first," he said, when asked whether the team would match Jordan's offer sheet. "We've still got $3.5 million in cap room and before we give up that flexibility we have to exhaust every opportunity that we have to use the remaining cap room we have.

"But I would expect DeAndre to be here smiling and being goofy and doing skits with Blake at some point at media day (Tuesday)."

On Sunday a source told ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher that matching Jordan's offer sheet could practically force starting center Chris Kaman to seek a trade elsewhere. Jordan's playing time and role are sure to expand to justify his eight-figure salary and that means a reduced role for Kaman, who will be a free agent next summer.

His chances of landing another contract close in value to the five-year, $52.5 million deal set to expire will depend on proving he's still a starting center with All-Star potential and he's not likely to get that chance in Los Angeles if Jordan is retained.

Injuries limited Kaman to 32 games last season, but in 2009-10 he stayed healthy and averaged 18.5 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocked shots in 76 games, earning him his first All-Star selection.

Teams who already have expressed an interest in Kaman, according to a league source, include the Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs and Utah Jazz.

Ramona Shelburne is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

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