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Clippers

Former Laker Wesley Johnson thinks Clippers can compete with anyone in West

Branden Dawson, DeAndre Jordan, Austin Rivers, Josh Smith, Doc Rivers, Cole Aldrich, Paul Pierce, Wesley Johnson

Los Angeles Clippers Coach Doc Rivers, center, stands with off-season signees, from left, Branden Dawson, DeAndre Jordan, Austin Rivers, Josh Smith, Cole Aldrich, Paul Pierce and Wesley Johnson at a news conference on Tuesday.

(Nick Ut / Associated Press)

After playing for the Lakers the last two seasons, Wesley Johnson is taking the long trip down the Staples Center hallway.

The Clippers signed Johnson to a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract earlier this month.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Johnson said that he thinks the Clippers will be able to compete with any team in the West.

“With the people we added to the team, and me coming along, I think we’re able to compete every night with them and stand toe-to-toe with anybody,” he said.

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Johnson, the No. 4 pick in the 2010 draft, averaged 9.9 points and 4.2 rebounds while shooting 35.1% from beyond the three-point line last season with the Lakers.

The Lakers finished with a woeful record of 21-61 last season, while the Clippers were tied for the second-best record in the West (56-26).

Johnson said he’s looking forward to playing for a team that’s, well, good.

“I want a chance to win,” he said. “My track record through my career is I’ve been on teams, unfortunately, that have been bad. So, fortunately, I’m on the other side.”

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The 28-year-old forward will help augment the Clippers’ bench, which was a point of weakness for the team last season.

In addition to signing Johnson, the Clippers added forwards Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith. They re-signed DeAndre Jordan and acquired backup center Cole Aldrich. They re-signed guard Austin Rivers and added guard Pablo Prigioni.

The Clippers were one win away from reaching the Western Conference Finals last season for the first time in their 45-year history. They then blew a 3-1 series lead over the Houston Rockets in the second round by losing three games in a row, allowing the Rockets to become just the ninth team in NBA history to recover from such a deficit.

“I think we’re better,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday. “And I think you have to be better. The West is better in a lot of ways.”

Twitter: @melissarohlin


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