Dunleavy Plans to Buy Some Time With Fill-Ins

Times Staff Writer

The Clippers might decide today who will be filling out their roster.

This is the first day teams can sign players to 10-day contracts. And, for now, this appears to be the route the Clippers will take in finding another warm body while Corey Maggette (foot) and Zeljko Rebraca (irregular heartbeat) continue their recoveries.

"We're working on stuff," Coach Mike Dunleavy said after practice Wednesday. "We haven't signed anybody yet, but there are some people we're looking at."

Dunleavy did not reveal any names. But one possible candidate, according to team sources, is Rodney White, a 6-foot-9 forward who was waived by the Clippers in late October and has played for the Denver Nuggets, the Detroit Pistons and the Golden State Warriors.

Trade rumors regarding Indiana Pacer outcast Ron Artest continue to swirl, but Dunleavy said no deals -- Artest or otherwise -- were imminent.

"You're still always looking and exploring things that come up," Dunleavy said.

A deal for Artest would cause a significant shift in team chemistry. The Clippers, when all their pieces are in place, have played like a playoff contender.

Even during this current funk, in which they have lost seven of 10 games, the Clippers have not fallen far in the standings.

At 17-12 they are second in the Pacific Division, two games behind Phoenix.

Where the Clippers are treading lightly is with the notion that they can ride out this injury wave without making a substantial move.

Dunleavy says, however, that the team cannot lose another key player for long and remain among the top teams in the Western Conference.

"It's one of those things where we have to be a little bit lucky," Dunleavy said. "I don't know how many more injuries we can withstand. Right now we've been bearing a lot, so it is an issue."

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The Clippers should be getting back one of their injured players by the time they travel to Sacramento to take on the Kings on Friday. Quinton Ross, who has been sidelined by back spasms, has taken part in full practices the last two days.

"Things looked pretty good in practice, so we'll see how it goes from there," said Ross, who recovered from the inflamed nerve in his back with a combination of rest and exercise.

"I had a back problem last year, so I had an idea how to get it ready. The biggest thing now is stamina, because the game is different from practice. So I'm trying to get my game wind."

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Elton Brand and Chris Kaman did not participate in the basketball portion of Wednesday's practice. Kaman was being rested for a tendinitis flare-up, and Brand -- who still lifted weights and did aerobics -- was given, in essence, a day off.

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