Nets trade Kittles to Clippers; sign free-agents Vaughn, Buford

NEWARK, New Jersey, AP

Kerry Kittles was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers for a future second-round draft pick on Thursday, another step in the dismantling of the New Jersey Nets.

Kittles is the second starter to leave the Nets this month: Power forward Kenyon Martin went to the Denver Nuggets for three first-round draft choices.

To try and fill the void left by Kittles, who spent eight years with the Nets, the club signed free-agent guards Jacque Vaughn and Rodney Buford.

“We’re going to try to win every game we can,” Nets CEO Rod Thorn said. “We as an organization want to be monetarily responsible. When you look at our position, we can have some money and also have as good if not a better team than we were going to have the other way.”

Thorn said the money saved by trading Kittles will be used to fill other needs on the roster.

“We have holes to fill,” he said. “We’ve got to build our base back up.”

Kittles has averaged 14.3 points, 2.6 assists and 3.9 rebounds a game during his career. Last season, Kittles played in all 82 regular-season games and averaged 13.1 points and 4 rebounds.

Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said Kittles is a perfect fit for his team.

“Kerry is a terrific defender, ball-handler and perimeter shooter who will enhance our team chemistry,” Dunleavy said in a statement issued by the team.

The Clippers also declined to match Quentin Richardson’s six-year offer sheet with the Phoenix Suns worth about US$45 million. The Clippers had tried to sign Kobe Bryant, but Bryant decided to remain with the Los Angeles Lakers.

New Jersey hopes Vaughn will provide productive minutes off the bench to rest All-Star point guard Kidd, who is recovering from knee surgery.

“He is a veteran who can come in and run the show for us behind J- idd,” Nets general manager Ed Stefanski said. “We can’t play J-Kidd the amount of minutes we have in the past, and we know that. This is a decision we made to lessen that load.”

Vaughn played for the Atlanta Hawks last year and averaged 3.8 points and 2.7 rebounds in 71 games.

Buford, who played for the Sacramento Kings last season, is expected to add depth at both guard and forward. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

“Rodney has no problem putting the ball in the basket,” Stefanski said. “He can put points on the board and he can do that quickly.”

The Nets are the fifth stop for Buford, who previously played for Miami, Philadelphia, Memphis and Sacramento. He has career averages of 6.2 points and 2.5 rebounds.