On Friday afternoon both the Los Angeles Clippers — looking like a real threat in the West — and the Oklahoma City Thunder — the team to beat in the West — picked up veteran wings to strengthen their rotations, locker rooms and title chances.
Let’s start in Los Angeles, who inked former Indiana Pacer’s All-Star Danny Granger to a deal through the remainder of the 2014 season. More from Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
Granger, 30, cleared waivers at 5 p.m. ET Friday and hopes to make his Clippers debut Saturday against New Orleans. He already was in Los Angeles on Thursday and worked out at a local gym, according to a source.
He was officially waived Wednesday after completing a contract buyout with the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers had acquired him from the Indiana Pacers just before the trade deadline for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen.
By signing with the Clippers, he becomes the second veteran player that coach and senior vice president of player personnel Doc Rivers has recruited to the team in a week. Last week, Rivers outrecruited several other teams to sign forward Glen Davis after he was bought out by the Orlando Magic. Davis played for Rivers with Boston, where they won the 2008 title and lost in the 2010 Finals.
As Shelburne notes, the Clippers picked up Big Baby Glen Davis, a former Celtic under Doc Rivers, to add depth to a thin front court. Granger will give Rivers the depth — and confidence — for his bench unit on the wing.
Granger is surely not going to return to his All-Star form of a few seasons ago, a 25 ppg scorer with a deadly outside shot, but he can still make a jumper, and more importantly, smart plays when the Clippers need them.
The Clippers likely made this move to give them enough of a punch to get past Oklahoma City. But the Thunder, per usual, are never a step behind.
Sam Presti came to terms with forward Caron Butler on Friday, adding a strong offensive veteran to a rotation that has been in desperate need of a third scorer since James Harden was traded to Houston prior to the 2012 season. More from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Despite close relationships and history with the Miami Heat, Butler decided that his best opportunity to make an impact and chase a championship belonged with Oklahoma City. Miami has lost out on the top two free-agent buyout players in Danny Granger and Butler.
The fact that Oklahoma City stopped pursuing Danny Granger several days before his Los Angeles Clippers commitment led many in the NBA to believe the Thunder were confident of securing Butler as a free agent.
The acquisition of Butler could be a tremendous boost to the Thunder, who have lost three straight games for the first time this season. Oklahoma City is 43-15.
Hard to believe Butler is already 33 years old, but he is still capable of averaging double figures as he has done in 34 games with the Milwaukee Bucks this season.
Butler will be able to replace Thabo Sefolosha at shooting guard when the Thunder need another shooting threat and will also be able to slide up to the three and allow the Thunder to play Kevin Durant at the four.
There are no easy rounds in the Western Conference this year, with several teams — San Antonio, Houston and Golden State — also posing as legitimate title threats at the moment.
But Oklahoma City — despite losing three consecutive home games — and the Clippers are looking like the two strongest bets right now.
Let’s talk again in March.
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