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Smith, Two Others Traded by Clippers

Times Staff Writer

The Clippers traded free-agent guards Derek Smith and Franklin Edwards and forward-guard Junior Bridgeman to the Sacramento Kings Tuesday for guards Larry Drew and Mike Woodson, a first-round draft pick in 1988, a second-round pick in 1989 and an undisclosed amount of cash.

According to Clipper sources, Sacramento will pay half of Drew’s $600,000 salary next season.

“I don’t think the Clippers made a bad deal,” said Joe Axelson, the Kings’ general manager. “Drew is the sleeper in the deal. I’ll be stunned if he doesn’t play well for the Clippers. Drew will help the Clippers. He became disenchanted here, backing up (guard) Reggie Theus.”

Smith, who had vowed several times that he would not play for the Clippers again, received a $4.8-million, five-year offer sheet from Sacramento Aug. 7. Edwards got a $500,000, two-year offer from the Kings the same day. The Clippers had until Friday--15 days from the time they received the offer sheets--to match them, or make a deal with Sacramento, or lose Smith and Edwards without getting compensation.

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Drew, 6-1 and 180, a six-year veteran, is coming off the worst season of his career. He averaged just 11.9 points in 1985-86. Drew, 28, had his best season in 1982-83, averaging 20.1 points.

The Clippers hope that Drew will fill the void created when Norm Nixon, starting point guard, suffered a knee injury while playing softball last month in New York. Nixon will probably be out for at least four months.

“We lost our starting backcourt and we’re trying to replace what we lost,” said Elgin Baylor, the Clippers’ director of basketball operations. “Drew is a playmaker and Woodson can score. It gives us more flexibility.”

Said Drew from his home in Kansas City: “This is an ideal situation for me. I’m especially happy to be going to the Clippers. This is something I’ve been hoping for all summer. I’ll be able to play my natural position. In Sacramento, I had to share the point with Reggie Theus and it limited my game. And I’m real good friends with (Clipper Coach) Don Chaney. He was an assistant coach in Detroit my first year in the league when I played there.”

Woodson, 6-5 and 198, is 28 and a six-year veteran who averaged 15.7 points last season. He moved into the starting lineup in the second half of the season, replacing Drew.

Woodson was on a promotional cruise with the Kings in Alaska and could not be reached for comment. Sacramento officials were reportedly trying to reach him by ship-to-shore radio to tell him about the trade.

Smith, 6-7 and 215 pounds, a four-year veteran, was the Clippers’ leading scorer in the 1984-85 season, averaging 22.1 points. He played in just 11 games last season, however, before suffering a knee injury and contracting a rare form of mononucleosis.

“We are confident that Derek Smith will give us someone to go to inside when the game is on the line,” Axelson said. “We will no longer have to attempt to win close games from the outside.”

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Reached at his home in Louisville, Smith said: “I’m real happy. It’s just what I wanted. Now I have no more strings attached with the L.A. Clippers so I don’t need to make any more (negative) comments about them.”

Said Sacramento Coach Phil Johnson: “Larry Drew didn’t have a real good year last year. I didn’t think he responded well to what we were trying to do. Larry is a good player, I hope he plays well for the Clippers.”

Edwards, 6-1 and 170, is a five-year veteran who averaged nine points last season. The Kings say they will use him to back up Theus.

Reached at his home in Philadelphia, Edwards said: “I’m real excited that they got it done. I think it’s a great situation up there in Sacramento. It’s funny, as much as I liked playing in L.A., it was a bad situation with the team. I think the guys coming from Sacramento are going to find that it’s a 360-degree turn.”

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Bridgeman, 6-5 and 215, at 32 an 11-year NBA veteran, spent nine seasons in Milwaukee before he was traded to the Clippers in 1984 in the Marques Johnson deal.

Bridgeman said he was disappointed by the trade, which took him by surprise.

“I think everything will work out for the best,” Bridgeman said. "(Trades) are just part of the game.”

Sources said that the Clippers traded Bridgeman because of salary cap considerations. Bridgeman is in the final year of an eight-year contract worth $350,000 a season.

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“He’s reaching the end of his career,” Axelson said of Bridgeman. “He plays the same position Woodson does. So he’ll be a good backup to Derek Smith. Woodson wouldn’t have been happy playing 17 or 18 minutes. We were very sorry to give up Mike Woodson.”

Alan Rothenberg, the Clipper president, said the team is happy with the deal.

“We’re filling two holes, point guard and off guard,” he said. “And the team will be better off with a first-round (draft pick) salted away. There was a history of trading away draft picks under the previous ownership and it will be nice to start hoarding them ourselves.

“Both Drew and Woodson have four good years or more in front of them. And just a couple of years ago Drew was one of the best point guards in the league. Given the ball to run the team, he’s going to be tremendous. And Woodson gives us someone who can put it up from outside.”

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There were reports that the Clippers wanted the Kings to include second-year forward Otis Thorpe in the deal, and that as late as Tuesday morning the Clippers were trying to get an additional second-round pick.


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