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Clippers’ Chris Kaman says contract year doesn’t affect his approach

This is a contract year for Clippers center Chris Kaman, a year in which he might consider putting up numbers to try to impress his current employers or potential suitors.

But, Kaman maintained after practice Saturday, he’s not going to change his approach to the season despite this being the last year of a deal that pays him $12.7 million.

“You hope not,” Kaman said. “You don’t like to hear guys say, ‘Oh, I’m in my contract year. I’ve got to play harder.’ Like what have you been doing the last four years? I try to give my effort every game the best I can.

“I think it’s important to be professional at all times. So I’m not going to say, ‘I’ve got to play hard this year” because of the contract.’ I want to play the same way I play every year.”

In some ways, this could be a dicey situation for Kaman.

If restricted free-agent center DeAndre Jordan returns to the Clippers as the team expects, Kaman may not get major minutes.

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The Clippers have made an offer to Jordan and are waiting to hear from him. The Golden State Warriors are expected to make the 6-11 Jordan an offer soon, and the Clippers have said they will match any offer he gets.

“If DJ comes back, there’s going to be a lot of split time between the two of us,” Kaman said. “It’s hard to determine what’s going to happen, how [Coach] Vinny [Del Negro] is going to see things. He decides what happens, so I can’t control that. I’ve got to play when I get my chance.”

Does Kaman, who missed 50 games last season, most of them because of a left ankle injury, want to start?

“I’ve been starting in this league for 7½-years,” Kaman said. “I got hurt last year and I couldn’t start when I came back. That’s just how it went down. When I came back towards the end of the regular season, I thought I played pretty well. That’s what I told everybody upstairs” in management.

Butler glad to play again

Caron Butler played in 29 games last season before having surgery in January to repair a ruptured right patellar tendon in his right knee and sitting out the rest of the season as Dallas made its run to the NBA title.

He joined the Clippers in their first five-on-five practice Saturday and felt good about his health.

“That was the first time [playing competitive basketball] in almost a year,” said Butler, who signed a three-year, $24-million deal with the Clippers on Friday. “Yeah, it felt good playing.”

Bledsoe due back in January

The Clippers clarified the time frame for when guard Eric Bledsoe is expected to return from surgery on torn cartilage in his right knee.

Bledsoe, who had surgery Oct. 7, is expected to return six to eight weeks from now, not from the date of the surgery, meaning he probably won’t return until late January.

“I’ll be straight,” Bledsoe said. “I’m going to be all right.”

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner


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