The Clippers’ future was on display Monday night, in front of NBA Commissioner David Stern, team owner Donald Sterling, General Manager and Coach Mike Dunleavy and veteran Marcus Camby.
Other elements of the Clippers’ future were in the works, though not in full view.
Blake Griffin and Allen Iverson. There’s no question mark behind Griffin’s name on a night in which he made his NBA Summer League debut with an impressive showing, scoring a game-high 27 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in the Clippers’ 93-82 victory against the Lakers. The No. 1 overall pick in June’s draft made his first eight shots.
“It’s the first time I played in a game in three months or so, more than that,” said Griffin, who gave himself a B-minus. “It was great to get back out there and shake that rust off there a little bit.”
As for Iverson? He could end up being part of the Clippers’ future. Talks between the Clippers and the free-agent guard have been characterized as “very serious,” according a source close to Iverson who was not authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations.
The Clippers declined to comment. They have long been intrigued by Iverson, having come close to acquiring him in the past. The process has moved far enough along that they have spoken to Camby about Iverson since they were close as teammates in Denver. Baron Davis is said to be on board with adding Iverson.
Still, other hurdles remain. Iverson is looking at the $5.8-million midlevel exception for next season, and one of his other potential suitors, the Miami Heat, is reportedly unwilling to offer more than $2 million for one season. Until now, the team expressing the most interest in Iverson was Memphis.
Iverson, who turned 34 last month, was traded from Denver to Detroit last season and had a disappointing run with the Pistons. He also caused a flap during the spring when he said he didn’t want to come off the bench for the Pistons. That, supposedly, wouldn’t be a problem with the Clippers, but they need to hear that directly from him.
Iverson averaged a career-low 17.5 points in 57 games for Denver and Detroit. He was the NBA’s most valuable player in 2000-01.
No matter what happens, the Clippers will have a different look next season, starting with Griffin. On the Clippers’ first three possessions, he made a layup off a pick and roll with Eric Gordon, banked in 12-foot jump shot and made a three-point basket.
“For a guy like him, it’s hard to have a bad game because he plays so hard and does so many things,” said Dunleavy, who was a spectator. “He’s very unselfish. He’s going to draw a lot of attention. What he did tonight, he made the right plays to the right people at the right time. I just love the way he plays.”
Said Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak: “He’s the No. 1 pick for a reason. He should have a heck of a career. He looks mature beyond his years.”
One key point for Griffin came during one of the practices before summer league when he passed up an open jump shot.
“He [Dunleavy] stopped me and said, ‘Shoot the ball, I’m not going to get upset if you take a wide-open shot,’ ” Griffin said.