- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
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The New Orleans Hornets, in a move to shed some payroll after the recent acquisition of Emeka Okafor, have sent swingman Rasual Butler and cash to the Los Angeles Clippers for a conditional second-round pick in 2016.
Butler is scheduled to earn $3.9 million next season. With the Clippers looking for an extra shooter and depth at both shooting guard and small forward, sources said the team was amenable to absorbing the final year of Butler's contract, which will save New Orleans nearly $8 million when factoring in the luxury-tax implications.
"One chapter ends and another begins! Gonna MISS the Hornets," Butler said on his Twitter feed. "I am excited about being a Clipper! Thanks N.O. for all the support u guys gave me! Thank u to all those who have welcomed me to L.A.!!!!"
The Clippers were able to absorb Butler's contract without surrendering a player by plugging his salary into the $7.3 million trade exception they created when it dealt Zach Randolph to Memphis last month.
If the Hornets can shed some $4 million more in payroll between now and February in a similar deal that does not force them to take a contract in return, they are poised to move beneath the $69.9 million tax threshhold for next season.
Butler had the most productive season of his seven-year career in 2008-09, averaging 11.2 points and 3.3 rebounds while playing in all 82 games for the Hornets, who made the playoffs. He shot 40 percent from the field and 37 percent from 3-point range to match his career averages.
"We believe he is another piece who will help us get back to being a competitive playoff team," Clippers coach and general manager Mike Dunleavy said.
Butler played three seasons in Miami before being traded to the Hornets in 2005.
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
10hMarc Stein and Calvin Watkins