"He's like, 'Man, when are you coming back?'"
Rivers finally has a definitive answer. He's targeting the
Rivers apparently will be back on the early side of the four-to-six-week timetable given by the Clippers at the time of his injury. He completed a workout with coaches Saturday and went through his first full practice Sunday since sustaining a blow to the hand early this month against the
"My shot feels great, I feel like I have good wind, but I just want to get back with the team," said Rivers, who will sit out a 10th consecutive game Monday when the Clippers face the
The biggest challenge facing Rivers upon his return will be finding a rhythm, something Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said could take a handful of games.
"You start going too fast, you lose the ball, you miss layups," said Doc Rivers, who is Austin's father. "That's how it goes for most guards when you come back."
Austin Rivers will wear a protective wrapping with a gel pad for about a week, but he said he's not experiencing any discomfort beyond soreness. His return will be a major relief to Paul, whose playing time has soared in the backup point guard's absence.
Paul has averaged almost 36 minutes per game with Rivers out, nearly three minutes more than his season average. Paul's 40-point outburst against the
"MVP voting is done already, as far as I'm concerned," Doc Rivers said, referring to the widely held belief that
What about Blake?
Austin Rivers and Griffin still saw quite a bit of each other while sidelined in recent weeks because they are in the care of the same hand specialist.
"After he's done, I go," Rivers said of office visits. "Or after I'm done, he comes."
Doc Rivers said Griffin has been shooting for at least a week but there remained no timetable for the return of a player who was expected to miss four to six weeks after breaking his right hand while punching team assistant equipment manager Matias Testi on Jan. 23. Griffin underwent the first of two procedures to repair the hand five weeks ago Monday.
He must also serve a four-game suspension for his role in the altercation after being cleared to play.
The final roster spot
Doc Rivers would not say whether the Clippers would re-sign forward Alex Stepheson after his first 10-day contract expires Monday. The team is also assessing the potential fit of other players who have been waived, including
Players must be on a roster by Tuesday to be eligible for the playoffs, with the exception of additions from the Development League.
CLIPPERS NEXT UP
When: 7:30 p.m, Monday.
On the air: TV: Prime; Radio: 980, 1330.
Record vs. Nets: 1-0.
Update: The Nets' buyout of