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In a New Era, Thomas Is Glad to Be a Clipper

Times Staff Writer

Tim Thomas, the clutch-shooting forward who helped knock both Los Angeles teams out of the NBA playoffs this spring, signed a free-agent contract with the Clippers on Thursday.

A versatile forward who can play three positions, Thomas signed a four-year, $24-million deal. He averaged 15 points against the Lakers and the Clippers in the playoffs as a member of the Phoenix Suns, production Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy hopes will carry over.

“Every time he’s been in the playoffs he’s put up strong numbers,” Dunleavy said. “He’s come through for his team. That’s something that is really nice to have for your back pocket.”

Thomas lives in the Los Angeles area in the off-season, and said the chance for his family to live at home was “a blessing” and a main factor in signing with the Clippers.

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“In the past,” Thomas said, “people always said nobody wanted to play for the Clippers. ... But the Clippers organization is on the uprise.”

With the departure of Vladimir Radmanovic, who signed a contract with the Lakers on Wednesday, Thomas probably will back up Elton Brand at power forward. But at 6 feet 10, Thomas is mobile enough to play small forward or center.

With the Clippers, he’ll reunite with Sam Cassell, whom he played with for five seasons in Milwaukee. The two feuded briefly with the Bucks but have made up since. Cassell even called Thomas last week encouraging him to sign.

“The experience was great in Phoenix,” Thomas said. “I had fun. But this situation is going to be better for me and I’m looking forward to it.”

The Clippers also signed forward Paul Davis, their second-round pick from Michigan State.


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