Just got done with the Clippers first summer league practice

We’ll have more later, but in the meantime, here’s a few notes:

- Blake Griffin has adjusted his shooting form. Instead of shooting on the way down from his vertical jump as he did in his predraft workout with the Clippers in June, he’s now shooting at the top of his (albeit shorter) jump. It’s a more streamlined jumper, for sure. Griffin: “That’s something we’ve really been working on, shooting on the way up for my jumper, and extending every time and finishing as I’m going up. I feel like I’m shooting a lot better than I did in the workout. It feels really good.”

- Mike Taylor was still a bit out of control at times, but he had a couple of nice alley-oop passes and certainly showed his quickness against former Notre Dame and Ohio State guards Kyle McAlarney and Jamar Butler. Both Griffin and DeAndre Jordan said after the workout that Taylor has pulled them aside and readied them for in-air action by the hoop.

- Jordan has been working on his offensive game. A couple times in the post he pulled nice moves against former Nevada center Kevinn Pinkney, but everything is still in its beginning stages. Jordan: “I’ve been working on my offense, trying to get it right. Even its some small moves, paint shots, I’ve been trying to work on anything besides dunking every time.”

-Eric Gordon didn’t make himself as much a part of the game as you would expect with the other players being of a lower caliber than he’s used to. Still, he didn’t disappoint.

- There were quite a few participants in the mini-camp of sorts who won’t be on the summer league roster: guard Jamar Butler (Ohio State), forwards Korvotney Barber (Auburn), Corey Belser (San Diego), and Travon Bryant (Missouri), and forward/center Kibwe Trim (Sacred Heart).

- Sean Banks was probably the most impressive non-Clipper at today’s workout. He showed his athleticism numerous times in the scrimmage. After leaving Memphis after his sophomore season in 2005, Banks has floated around the basketball scene, including appearances in the summer league, NBDL, and in Puerto Rico and Turkey. He averaged nearly 22 points a game in the 2007-08 season with the L.A. D-Fenders of the NBDL.

- Mike Dunleavy: “We threw a lot of stuff at them in the first practice, but overall picture, as we go through the next couple days we’ll smooth it out. We’ll come back tonight and see what did they grasp, what do they come back with, what do they have the second time, and start doing repetitions to find the places where they were lacking tonight.”

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Blake Griffin signs

It’s been a foregone conclusion for a while now that Blake Griffin would join the Clippers.

Since May 19, to be exact, when the Clippers jumped two teams and won the first overall pick in the NBA’s draft lottery.

On June 25, the team took a big step to that end, selecting the 6-foot-10 forward in the draft.

Thursday, the Clippers finally made it official, announcing the signing of the 20-year-old Griffin.

Although terms of the deal were not announced, the league’s collective bargaining agreement stipulates that Griffin will get a three-year contract with a team option for the fourth year.

Under the agreement, Griffin will make between four and five million this season. The Clippers will also have the opportunity to make a qualifying offer after four seasons of the deal.

Griffin averaged 22.7 points and 14.4 rebounds for Oklahoma in his sophomore season as he garnered AP Player of the Year honors. He now joins a Clippers team that was 19-63 last season and has won one playoff series in its history in Los Angeles.

“I’m not worried about it,” Griffin said on draft day. “I feel like we have a great group of guys on the Clippers and I’m looking forward to helping them win games.”

The Clippers have had a fairly active offseason thus far, selecting Griffin and extending a qualifying offer to forward Steve Novak. They also agreed to a deal with the Memphis Grizzlies that would net former Clipper Quentin Richardson in return for Zach Randolph. Although the deal has not been finalized, it should create an opportunity for the 20-year-old Griffin to develop on the job. While he won’t have to be the team’s No. 1 option — Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, and Al Thornton are all expected to be back healthy — Griffin should be the starter at power forward.

“The good thing for Blake is he’s walking into a team where the roster composition is playoff caliber,” assistant general manager Neil Olshey said after the lottery. “I don’t think anybody’s expecting him to have to play forty minutes a night and take twenty shots. He can kind of find his way and find ways to contribute.”

The Clippers will hold their first of three summer league practices today at their training center in Playa Vista.

The summer league team — with a roster featuring Griffin, Gordon, and DeAndre Jordan — will play a slate of five games in Las Vegas, beginning with a Monday match-up with the Lakers.

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Media chimes in on Randolph trade

Evidently, 77% of you think the Zach Randolph trade was good for the Clips, and local and national media outlets largely share the same opinion.

Kevin Arnovitz at Clipperblog, also at ESPN: “For the Clippers, moving Randolph isn’t just about clearing minutes — it allows the franchise to press rewind on what was a diastrous cultural acquisition in Randolph.”

BIll Simmons: Dunleavy turns Z-Bo into Q’s expiring deal for 8 mill less + copious 2010 cap space? All is forgiven! Red Auerbach lives!”

Steve Perrin at Clips Nation: “Frankly it’s about as good as the Clippers could have hoped for…they’ll clear cap space for the 2010 off season when some huge names are going to become free agents.”

Interestingly, though, only 38% of national fans think the Clippers got the better of the trade, according to a poll by Foxsports.

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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.

Continue reading

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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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