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Assistants Take an Active Role

Since joining the Clippers as assistant coaches, Dennis Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have slowly become more involved with the team. They are not afraid to offer suggestions, which sits well with interim Coach Jim Todd.

“We all have to work together for one common goal, and an assistant’s job is to be an extension of the head coach,” Todd said after practice Wednesday afternoon at Staples Center. “However, I try to include them in everything. I am listening to as much of their advice [as] I can take in.

“They’ve been great. They’ve been very helpful. I just think the more time we have together with the team, eventually we’ll do better.”

Tyrone Nesby agreed.

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“They are making it a lot easier for J.T. because they’ve been there, they have [championship] rings,” the small forward said. “It’s easy to feel a lot more comfortable hearing it from them because they know what it takes. We love talking with them.”

Nesby and Abdul-Jabbar met two years ago after Nesby’s senior season at Nevada Las Vegas when the former Laker center coached him in a pre-draft all-star game in Phoenix.

“He’s always been great to deal with; that’s why I like talking to him so much,” Nesby said. “He just tells you to go out there and do your thing.”

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Because of injuries, the Clippers had only nine players available for practice Wednesday, forcing Johnson and fellow assistant Rex Kalamian to fill in for some drills.

Rookie Lamar Odom received treatment on his sore right shoulder. Shooting guard Derek Anderson rested a sore right ankle sprain and point guard Troy Hudson did not practice because of stomach problems.

Todd, however, wasn’t too concerned because he said they should be ready to play when the Clippers face Cleveland on Saturday at Staples Center.

“I guess this is our little mini-camp,” Todd said. “But we’re not in position to go two-a-days. We’re not healthy enough.”

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