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Kittles Likely to Miss Start of Clipper Camp

Times Staff Writer

Kerry Kittles, the Clippers’ most significant off-season acquisition, indicated Tuesday that he probably would be sidelined when the club opens training camp next week in Santa Barbara.

The veteran guard, traded from the New Jersey Nets in July, said that his right knee has not fully recovered from arthroscopic surgery in June.

“It will probably carry over into camp,” he said of his rehab.

Camp opens Tuesday at Santa Barbara City College, the exhibition season Oct. 13 at Phoenix. The Clippers open the regular season Nov. 3 against the Seattle SuperSonics at Staples Center.

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“I should be ready for the season,” said Kittles, who is being counted on to replace Quentin Richardson as a starter and provide leadership and a steadying hand for a young team.

Kittles, 30, averaged 14.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists in seven seasons as a starter for the Nets and last season played in all 82 regular-season games, the second time in three seasons that he did not sit out a game.

He was acquired from the Nets on July 29, the Clippers sending the Nets a second-round pick in next year’s draft and renouncing Richardson to fit Kittles’ $10.2-million salary under their cap. The Nets also sent the Clippers $1.5 million; Richardson signed with the Phoenix Suns.

“It’s important to be there at the beginning; it sets the tone for the season and helps everyone kind of be on the same page,” said Kittles, who is in the last year of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent next summer. “So, if I’m not able to be there it won’t leave a good impression.

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“But I think it’s more important to play during the regular season.”


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