NBA

Kaman focused on coming back after injury

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LOS ANGELES (AP)

Chris Kaman is well aware his name is being mentioned in connection with a potential deal for All-Star point guard Chris Paul.

His focus is more on getting himself back in shape following a season during which a left ankle injury limited him to 32 games.

''You've always got to remember that this is a business and they can do anything they need to do to make their business better,'' Kaman, who is entering the final year of his contract, said Wednesday.

The Clippers had been engaged in trade talks with New Orleans before pulling out of negotiations on Monday after deciding the league-owned Hornets' asking price was too high.

Los Angeles reportedly offered a package that included Kaman, reserve guard Eric Bledsoe, forward Al-Farouq Aminu and their No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft.

Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro wasn't aware of any new negotiations between general manager Neil Olshey and the Hornets.

''Nothing has been across my desk in a couple days,'' Del Negro said. ''But we are always evaluating any situation to make our team better. Nothing has changed from that aspect as of now.''

With the Paul talks on the backburner, the Clippers turned their attention to Chauncey Billups, claiming the veteran point guard Monday after he was waived by the New York Knicks.

The 35-year-old took his physical Wednesday and is expected to join his new teammates Thursday.

''It's tough. Luckily he has that type of experience and that type of character and that type of leadership,'' Del Negro said. ''But it has been a difficult ride for him. That's part of the business. He's a pro and he'll come in here and we'll get him acclimated and comfortable as possible as quick as possible.''

Kaman is just eager to get back to playing basketball after nearly seven months off the court because of his injury and then the lengthy NBA lockout.

Kaman stayed late after Wednesday's practice, hoisting jumpers in an attempt to shake off some of the rust while preparing himself to challenge the newly re-signed DeAndre Jordan for the starting center position.

Jordan filled in admirably when Kaman went down last season, averaging 7.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.78 blocks in a career-high 80 games. He was rewarded with a four-year, $42.7 million offer sheet from the Golden State Warriors that the Clippers matched.

''He did a great job for us last season when I was injured, and he proved himself,'' Kaman said. ''Teams like that. You see what happened to him, he got paid.''

Del Negro said the truncated training camp schedule and influx of new players haven't given him enough time to fully evaluate his team. He has yet to make decisions on all the starters, besides saying All-Star forward Blake Griffin and guard Eric Gordon will be in the starting five.

The Clippers also signed small forward Caron Butler to a three-year deal.

Kaman is facing an uncertain future as he will be a free agent at season's end. He said he understands that his expiring deal is a valuable asset to potential trade partners.

''You've just got to deal with it,'' Kaman said. ''For me, I just have to keep playing and help the team I'm on right now. If something happens where they have to make a decision to do something different, that's their decision and I can't control that.''

Tagged: Pelicans, Clippers, Chris Kaman, Chris Paul

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