By Ramona Shelburne
There was a lot about Wednesday’s press conference at the Staples Center that felt familiar to Jason Hart. In effect, he was being re-introduced as a member of the Clippers after a one-year misadventure in Utah.
“It feels like I went off to college and now I’m back home,” he said.
Except you know how sometimes parents completely rearrange their children’s rooms when they leave for college? Take the bed out, put a home stereo system in and paint the walls a different color?
Well, that’s about what the Clippers have done to their roster since Hart left as a free agent last offseason.
Only three players –Cuttino Mobley, Chris Kaman, Tim Thomas — remain on the team since Hart’s departure last July, the result of one of the wackiest off-seasons in team history that appears to finally be settling down a bit.
“Building a team is a process and you’re never really done,” team president Andy Roeser said. “But I think we’re at the point where our roster is coming into focus.”
Then, just to mess with the assembled media and team PR staff, which has worked overtime just to keep up with the furious series of moves, he added: “But we’re never done and don’t be surprised if we have more to do before training camp.”
It was entirely unclear if he was kidding or not.
For the moment though, Roeser, general manager Elgin Baylor and director of player personnel Neil Olshey were content to re-introduce Hart –who was acquired from Utah in exchange for Brevin Knight last week — and welcome new addition Ricky Davis, who signed a two year deal, with a player option for the second year, on Monday.
“It’s a steal,” Olshey said of the moderate $2.3 million per season contract Davis’ singed. “I don’t think he would’ve had to take a pay cut off of what he made last season ($6.5 million) in a normal market. But in this market, he recognized the opportunity this presented him –much like James Posey did with Boston last year — and we’re more than happy to be the beneficiaries of that.
“Ricky is a guy we’ve tried to trade for several times over the last four years. And we’re talking about big, big time player in our organization. We’ve wanted him for a while.”
Davis, 28, averaged 13.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists while playing in all 82 games for the Miami Heat last season.
“It’s a tough market out there now,” Davis said. “But I’m excited to be here. I’ll play the way I can play and hopefully we can put it together and get into the playoffs.”