Laker, Clipper free agent updates

--The Lakers have made it clear that they want to keep as much of their team together as possible. Last night, the team formally extended offers to both Sasha Vujacic and Ronny Turiaf, making them restricted free agents. If either player signs an offer sheet with another team, then it seems as if the Lakers are set on matching, so long as the contract is not outrageous.

As for the rest of the team, we still haven't heard any substantial trade rumors about Lamar Odom. It appears Mitch Kupchak believes that coming back with the same team plus a healthy Andrew Bynum should be enough to push the Lakers ahead one extra step. That's not a bad philosophy, but given Odom's frustrating play in the Finals and that he has just one year left on his contract, they will at least have to consider trade options. Two weeks ago, we mentioned Richard Jefferson as a possibility, but he's already been dealt to Milwaukee.


--As for the Clippers, both Elton Brand and Corey Maggette opted out of their contracts. Maggette's move was expected, and Brand was only a mild surprise. Brand has said publicly that he is still intent on staying on as a Clipper and working out a long-term contract. Still, both Memphis and Philadelphia have cap room and could potentially sign him. Also, it's well-known that Pat Riley has salivated over Brand for years, and he'd love to work out a sign-and-trade for Brand to come to the Heat. The Clippers would probably have to settle for Shawn Marion if they were stuck in that situation.

Maggette has also said that he'd like to stay, but hasn't seemed quite as bullish about it. While he's reportedly a favorite of owner Donald Sterling, he has butted heads with head coach Mike Dunleavy. It's more likely that Maggette leaves the Clippers, possibly through a sign-and-trade that could net LA a high quality player in return, or an expiring contract.

The big news today in Clipperland though is their sudden pursuit of Baron Davis, who surprisingly opted out of his deal with the Golden State Warriors last night. Davis is an LA native who went to Crossroads for high school and then played at UCLA. They can afford him under the cap if they renounce their free agent rights to Maggette. And if they can re-sign Brand, bring in Davis, and pair the duo with Eric Gordon, then the Clippers are a very interesting basketball team.

Meanwhile Davis said he preferred to remain a Warrior, while not ruling out the Clippers. In an e-mail sent to ESPN.com's J.A. Adande, Davis wrote: "Clipps r possible. G State is where I wanna b."

The Clippers are also pursuing Beno Udrih, although it's not completely certain how he fits into this mix now that Davis is on their radar. Another possibility is Gilbert Arenas, an LA native who went to Grant High School in Van Nuys. Getting him in Clipper red and blue would be an absolute coup. However, Arenas has spurned the Clippers in the past and right now the smart money is on him choosing to stay in Washington.

Still, either Arenas or Davis would give the Clippers enough star power to be relevant on the crowded LA sports scene, and either paired with Brand should be enough to get them into the playoffs in a competitive Western Conference.

July 1, 2008 2:31 PM • Native Intelligence • Email the editor
 

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