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Dunleavy Isn’t Worried About Contract

Times Staff Writer

Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy returned from Russia without a contract extension, but he expressed optimism Monday about his situation and the team’s future.

The Clippers, among four teams that began the preseason in Europe to promote the NBA, open training camp today at Santa Barbara City College, and Dunleavy said he’s not worried about a new contract deal.

“We really didn’t talk about me” in Russia, he said. “We talked about other things to improve our team and where we’re going moving forward. I have a contract for this season, this is where I want to be, and I think everything ultimately will be fine, so I feel good about where we’re at now.”

Although Dunleavy declined to be specific about his conversations with Clippers officials during the nine-day trip, a contract extension for 7-foot center Chris Kaman and the status of General Manager Elgin Baylor were among the main topics, team sources said.

Kaman, 24, had personal-best averages of 11.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.38 blocked shots last season, and Dunleavy has strongly recommended that the Clippers offer the former first-round draft pick a multiyear extension this season.

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As for Baylor, Dunleavy wants to maintain their successful partnership beyond this season, the sources said.

There has been speculation within the organization that Dunleavy, who has significant input in personnel decisions, might receive an additional title in a new contract.

Dunleavy, however, apparently is fine with the current structure. Baylor -- the 2005-06 NBA executive of the year -- is the league’s lowest-paid general manager.

With a current salary of $2.5 million, Dunleavy -- the 1999 NBA coach of the year -- has a below-market package for someone with his experience. The Clippers are expected to offer Dunleavy a three- or four-year contract for more than $4 million a season.

“I think we’re all on the same page, and that’s the most important thing,” Dunleavy said. “I’m not really worried.”

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The team is expected to re-sign veteran forward Lamond Murray. The Clippers’ first-round draft choice (seventh overall) in 1994, Murray played his first five seasons with the Clippers. Last season Murray averaged 3.4 points in 57 games for the New Jersey Nets.... The Clippers were 1-1 in European exhibition games.... The team’s first exhibition game against an NBA team is Oct. 17 against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center.

jason.reid@latimes.com


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