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LA Times: With the proper maneuvering, Clippers can improve in off-season

The following article written by Ben Bolch is a like letter to Chris Paul and what he believes it needs to happen to upgrade the Clippers. The numbers in parenthesis after each player's name represents his current salary.


To sum up the LA Times article, here is what Ben Bolch sees it needs to happen for the Clippers to be successful:

Players to release

Chauncey Billups ($4 million)

This one is going to be tough. You love him like a brother. He is the Penn to your Teller, a steadying presence to a young and, at times, juvenile group of players.

Sadly, like Penn, he is prone to disappearing. In the final three games of the Memphis series, Billups scored zero, three and four points.

Unless he's willing to come back on a veteran's minimum deal, it's going to have to be bye-bye, buddy.

Lamar Odom ($8.2 million)

Odom tied for the league lead in games played. In those 82 games, he scored in double figures three times.

Add it all up and ... well, that won't take long. Odom averaged career lows in points (4.0) and assists (1.7) while making more than the gross domestic product of some third-world countries.

See ya.

Ronny Turiaf ($1.1 million)

We love effort and energy guys. Really, we do. Particularly when they're willing to help the marketing department by appearing on those in-game scoreboard ads for Metro.

But when they average nearly as many fouls (1.2) as points (1.9) while struggling to defend, it's not worth the effort to keep them around.

Players to keep

Matt Barnes ($1.2 million)

If Barnes didn't price himself out of another veteran's minimum contract with his solid play in the regular season, he certainly did with his 30-point bonanza in Game 6 against Memphis.

The Clippers would prefer to give him a small raise as opposed to dipping into their mid-level exception. Either way, he's a keeper.

Willie Green ($1.3 million)

We never said you would have to bid adieu to all your friends.

Green is just good enough and certainly cheap enough to warrant retaining through his nonguaranteed contract that would pay him $1.39 million next season.

Ryan Hollins ($1 million)

He's not a difference-maker except when it comes to staying under the luxury tax threshold of about $72 million for next season.

Players to get

O.J. Mayo ($4 million)

Mayo has said he would opt out of the final year of his contract with the Mavericks, giving other teams a shot at his services.

Though signing Mayo would probably require the full mid-level exception (plus a gift basket for agent runner Rodney Guillory), the shooting guard would provide another high-end scorer in the Clippers' starting lineup.

Mayo is coming off a season in which he made a career-best 40.7% of his three-pointers while averaging 15.3 points. That's, ahem, nearly twice the 8.4 points Billups averaged.

J.J. Hickson ($4 million)

Hickson was a double-double machine last season as an undersized center, averaging 12.7 points and 10.4 rebounds.

He could teach the Clippers' current overpaid center about playing with heart.

Jason Collins ($1.3 million)

You've made your owner look smart. Now it's time to help him in the public relations department.

Adding Collins, the first openly gay athlete in one of the four major U.S. pro sports, could put the heavily maligned Donald T. Sterling up for a humanitarian award.

It would be the ultimate feel-good story. Except for the unfortunate counterparts Collins leveled with his sturdy picks.

Players to trade

DeAndre Jordan ($22.4 million over two seasons) and Eric Bledsoe ($2.6 over one season)

You're probably going to have to part with your understudy to move your primary underachiever.

These are the possible trade targets if these two are shipped out to land a post presence:

Possible trade targets include Boston's Kevin Garnett ($12.4 million over one season, 36), who would presumably love to be part of a Big Three, West Coast edition; Sacramento'sDeMarcus Cousins ($4.9 million over one season, 22), another big man in need of a fresh start; Toronto's Andrea Bargnani ($10.7 million over one season, 27), who has been dangled more often than toes in the Pacific Ocean; and Cleveland's Anderson Varejao ($9 million over one season, 30), the floppy-haired forward-center whose rebounding upside should offset his history of injuries.