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They hope Hart can steady their attack

Times Staff Writer

The short-handed Clippers could soon receive help at point guard if veteran Jason Hart clears waivers.

Hart, who bought out his contract from the Sacramento Kings and was released Thursday, plans to sign with the Clippers on Monday unless another team claims him, team sources said.

“It’s an opportunity, and you have to take advantage of the opportunity because they don’t come around often,” Hart told the Sacramento Bee. “I can’t wait. I’m very, very excited. It’s going to be exciting, a fresh start.”

With Shaun Livingston sidelined for the remainder of the season and Sam Cassell now slowed because of a groin injury, the Clippers are eager to bring in Hart, who is considered a steady floor leader and strong defender.

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Without Cassell, the Clippers performed poorly on offense in Thursday’s 77-75 loss to the SuperSonics in Seattle.

Third-string point guard Daniel Ewing started and struggled to run the offense. Newcomer Will Conroy, who was signed from the development league Wednesday, was the Clippers’ only other active point guard.

Cassell, 37, has already been sidelined because of calf, ankle, heel, abdomen and groin injuries in his 14th season. He might not play tonight against the Indiana Pacers, and the Clippers are unsure about his status for the rest of the regular season.

The Clippers still hope to qualify for the Western Conference playoffs, and signing Hart would be an encouraging development for them, many in the organization said.

Hart, who played at Inglewood High and Syracuse, has played in 217 NBA games and has career averages of 5.4 points and 2.5 assists.

He had his best season for the Charlotte Bobcats in 2004-05, averaging 9.5 points, five assists and 1.3 steals in 74 games.

This season, Hart played in only 13 games for the Kings. His agent in January complained about first-year Sacramento Coach Eric Musselman’s treatment of his client this season.

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TONIGHT

vs. Indiana, 7:30 p.m., Channel 5

Site -- Staples Center.

Radio -- 710.

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Records -- Clippers 28-30, Pacers 29-28.

Record vs. Pacers -- 0-1.

Update -- Mike Dunleavy Jr. scored 20 points Feb. 11 in the Pacers’ 94-80 victory over the Clippers at Indianapolis. Dunleavy is averaging 13 points and five rebounds in 17 games since being traded to the Pacers by Golden State.

jason.reid@latimes.com

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