Novak, Davis likely back; Skinner, Acker on their way out

The Clippers announced in a release today that, among other moves, they have extended a qualifying offer to forward Steve Novak, making him a restricted free agent.
Curiously, forward/center Brian Skinner declined his $1.3 million option for next season; he’s now an unrestricted free agent. I believe the $1.3 million is the veteran minimum for a player of his tenure (11 years.)
Guard/forward Ricky Davis exercised his $2.4 million option after a horrific season in which he shot a career-low 34% from the field in 36 games. The Clippers chose not to bring guard Alex Acker back for next season. The 26-year-old Compton native played in 18 games for the team last year and had an $800,000 team option for the 2009-2010 season.

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More from Olshey on offseason plans

About the trade rumors involving Zach Randolph, Olshey said:
I think my owner summed it up best: you don’t give away guys averaging 20 and 10. I think the plan is, right now, not to give up a guy who’s averaging 20 and 10. One of the things Blake talked about on the stage was his versatility, and we think he can guard multiple spots on the floor. The pace we want to play at, there’s gonna be minutes, because guys aren’t gonna be able to play 43 minutes a game flying up and down the floor, up-tempo, in attack mode all the time. Baron called the other day — he’s lost weight — and he’s working out every day, he’s in phenomenal shape.

More past the jump.

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Tommy and Gail Griffin

Here’s a couple interesting comments from Blake Griffin’s parents, Tommy and Gail, at the introductory press conference Monday.

Gail Griffin, on how it felt to finally see their younger son introduced as the No. 1 pick and older son Taylor selected in the second round by the Phoenix Suns:
“It’s surreal. I think we still kind of pinch ourselves and go, is this really still happening? It’s exciting. We’re just absolutely elated that they’re both getting to have a shot at their long-time goal, and to be able to have their very first job after college playing basketball, doing something they love. It’s what parents want for their kids, it’s a dream come true.

Tommy Griffin, on whether Taylor Griffin ever felt overshadowed by younger brother Blake:
“Taylor has never indicated that to us, and he has never looked like it bothered him. Matter of fact, basically, if it wasn’t for Taylor, Blake wouldn’t have been at OU. Taylor was the No. 1 recruiter that got Blake to say, ‘I will go to OU.’ ”
Gail chimes in: “(Taylor) is Blake’s biggest fan, and Blake is Taylor’s biggest fan.”

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Excerpts from talk with Olshey

“Regarding the draft, there were a lot of people without picks that were trying to get into (the first round), and there’s a point, you know, in the second round, where overpaying for a pick makes it prohibitive: you just don’t get the same value. And that was a decision we made. We looked at some picks in the late first round but as we saw the way the draft was falling the guys we had targeted were all off the board.

“There are guys that we thought might be available later in the first round and those are the teams that we talked to, but when we saw the draft break, there was a run of those players, basically like 8 of the 9 guys that we had targeted that we’d acquire picks to get, were off the board.

“With the free agent market this summer, I think there’s gonna be some bargains out there that we can kinda start looking for.”

More to come.

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Blake Griffin official introductory press conference

More to come from it later, but in the meantime, here’s an interesting blurb from Assistant GM Neil Olshey.

I asked him if the front office would be comfortable with Mike Taylor as the primary backup to Baron Davis at point guard.

“I think we would. Mike made progress during the year — he had played off the ball in the D-League, he was more of a scorer in college, so it was a different mindset for him. I think the way the Coach wants to play — playing up-tempo, pushing the ball, he’s as quick between the baselines as any other point guard in the league — but what we’ve gotta work on is his decision making and that’s what we’ll do in summer league. Getting an entire offseason with him, playing pickup in the gym with NBA players, the men’s gym at UCLA, the open runs there, getting him more comfortable with making plays for other people, but he’s got the tools. He can handle the ball, he’s got speed with the ball, he can finish at the rim, so it’s just a matter of him trusting and understanding that we’ve got big time scorers around him and he just needs to facilitate and get them the ball.”

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More from Griffin

There’ll be two stories on Griffin in tomorrow’s paper, but in the meantime, here’s a few more quotes from the 20-year-old’s conference call. He spoke in short, polite sentences and didn’t really expand on too many of the questions.
Read on for what we transcribed. In case you were wondering, he said he was “looking forward” to playing with the Clippers seven times. A good sign, it seems.

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Camby weighs in

I text messaged Baron Davis, Al Thornton and Marcus Camby tonight to get a bit of reaction to the Clippers draft. Only Camby wrote back, which on the surface is a little surprising because Blake Griffin’s presence is one of the main reasons why Camby’s name keeps popping up in trade rumors. But if you know Camby — as stand-up a guy as there is in the NBA — it’s not all that surprising.

Anyway, here’s what he had to say:

“I think Blake is a tremendous young talent with a great future,” Camby wrote. “I feel he can really help this team and organization.”

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Clippers take Griffin

Surprise, surprise. We’re about to do a conference call with the No. 1 pick of the 2009 NBA draft, former Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin. The Clippers made him their selection at approximately 4:35 P.M. PST after more than a month of speculation (and near-confirmation) that he would be the choice.

Clippers jerseys bearing Griffin’s name and number are now available. We’ll have more from Griffin in a bit; he told ESPN that, “It’s great to know exactly where I’m going and it is set in stone.”

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Dunleavy/Olshey comments on Thursday’s NBA draft

Clippers Head Coach and General Manager Mike Dunleavy and Assistant GM Neil Olshey spoke to the media today about their draft day plans and how the roster might shape up. Surprisingly, very little was focused on the 20-year-old Oklahoma forward they’ve all but confirmed they’re taking at No. 1. Read on for more.

Don’t be surprised if the Clippers swing a trade for a late first or early-second round selection where they could take a “perimeter” guy, as Dunleavy mentioned. Spots to keep an eye on: In the first round, Nos. 33 (which, you may remember, once belonged to the Clippers), 35, 38, 39, 44, 55, 56.

Guys the Clippers are rumored to have thought about and could select if they trade for a second (or third) pick, in alphabetical order:

Chase Budinger, SG, Arizona (failed to live up to his potential in college, but still a lot of upside)
Toney Douglas, SG, Florida State (many liken him to Ben Gordon)
Darren Collison, PG, UCLA (a good bet to have at least some success at the next level)
Wayne Ellington, SG, UNC (good shooter, but not incredibly athletic)
Danny Green, SF, UNC (his ceiling is lower than any of these guys’, but a good role player)
Jack McClinton, PG/SG, Miami (a slightly better version of Daniel Ewing, but more selfish)
Jodie Meeks, SG, Kentucky (a prolific scorer who would’ve benefited greatly from staying for his senior year)
Patty Mills, PG, St. Mary’s (an interesting, score-first point guard who may — or may not — have a first-round guarantee)
Jermaine Taylor, SG, UCF (a poor man’s Eric Gordon)
Marcus Thornton, SG, LSU (more of an undersized 3 than a 2)

Continue reading for the full transcript of both of Dunleavy and Olshey’s interviews.

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