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New Season Holds New Hope for Clippers

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, September 28, 2009, at 02:31PM
Clippers Media Day Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Los Angeles Clippers rookie forward Blake Griffin speaks to the press at Monday's media day inside Staples Center.



Last year's disappointing season is a distant memory for the Los Angeles Clippers, who spent today's media day talking about the upcoming year's potential.

There's reason for optimist. The Clippers bring back a team that looks strong on paper and add a promising rookie in top draft pick Blake Griffin. They should be strong, if they can just stay healthy.

They didn't last year, and the constantly changing lineup led to breakdowns in performance. Coach Mike Dunleavy hopes things will be different this season. "Give me a healthy team and fundamentally our team is going to be very sound and play very good defense and we'll be very competitive," said Dunleavy.

Clipper fans have put a lot of hope in Griffin, and the rookie isn't worried about team's performance last year. "Obviously there were so many injuries and it's tough to win games that way," said Griffin.

He's also not worried about any "Clipper Curse" putting his season in peril. "My job is to come in here and play like I've always done," said Griffin. "I'm not worried about what's happened in the past. I wasn't here, a lot of these guys weren't here."

Dunleavy has been very impressed with Griffin's work ethic. "It's not exagerated," he said. "He's really a guy that wants to get better and keeps improving." The coach said he's seen improvement in Griffin's shot since the team signed him and was most impressed by the 6'10" forward's ability to pick up defensive schemes during summer league.

That doesn't mean Dunleavy has Griffin penciled into the lineup just yet. "Our lineup is totally open," the coach said. "As far as the first day, I'll go with the guys who were starters at the end of last year: Baron [Davis], Eric [Gordon], Al [Thornton], Marcus [Camby] and Chris [Kamen]. From there we'll see what makes the best sense for our team."

The team opens training camp on Tuesday, and starts its preseason schedule on Sunday in Oakland. Their first home game is against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, October 9. The regular season opens on Tuesday, October 27, with a game against that other Staples Center tenant, the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.

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