Top pick Blake Griffin on sidelines as Clippers open camp

Blake Griffin’s projected viewing location for Day 1 of Clippers’ training camp was not supposed to be from an elliptical machine or a yoga mat.

For the Clippers’ prized rookie forward, it was yoga poses and core strengthening instead of running drills with teammates Tuesday because of an injured left knee, a bruised left patella and sore left patellar tendon. He is considered day to day.

Clippers General Manager and Coach Mike Dunleavy said Griffin could be out five to six days, adding: “However long it takes for the bruise to go down. So we’ll just see.”

Griffin, who was the No. 1 overall pick at the NBA draft in June, wasn’t hobbling or in noticeable pain during a brief chat with reporters at the team’s practice facility in Playa Vista. “I’m obviously relieved it wasn’t anything serious,” he said.


Still, bone bruises can be tricky. How often have the Clippers had a day-to-day injury morph into week-to-week? Griffin said the knee was not swollen, however.

The power forward from Oklahoma admitted to being disappointed about having to wait a few more days for his training camp debut on the court, but said he was reassured by veteran teammates who pointed out the length of the NBA season.

“It’s just sore,” said Griffin, who had a precautionary MRI exam last week, which showed no structural damage.

Day 1 of camp has been tricky for the Clippers. Last season, then-rookie guard Eric Gordon sprained his ankle in the first night session, and veteran center Marcus Camby came down with flu.

This is the second injury to hit Griffin since the Clippers drafted him. His first was a strained right shoulder suffered during summer league play in Las Vegas in mid-July.

This latest injury occurred during an informal workout session Thursday at the Clippers’ training facility in a knee-on-knee collision with teammate Craig Smith. “I don’t know where I hit him,” Griffin said.

Smith, a forward acquired in the summer in a multiplayer trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, came away unscathed.

“Those things are always about location, location,” Dunleavy said.

After the morning session, Dunleavy was especially high on the fitness level of oft-injured center Chris Kaman, saying, “He looks great.” And new Clippers assistant coach John Lucas spoke to Dunleavy, enthused about Kaman’s versatility.

“I said, ‘Yeah, I know. He’s got all the tools,’ ” Dunleavy said. “It’s just a matter of better reads and taking care of the basketball.

“If he just used the rule of thumb of just one dribble, make your move, he’d hardly have any mistakes.”

Kaman, on media day, had reporters laughing when he made a reference to his injury-marred past.

He was limited to 31 games, and was out from late November until mid-March because of an injured foot.

“I don’t care if I’m horrible, I just want to play 65 to 70 games this year,” he said. “If I’m horrible, if I shoot 20% from the free-throw line, I just want to play. And I want to be able to play a lot of games and I want to be able to play consistent minutes.

“And I don’t want to be injured. I’m blessed to be here in this position, but at the same time I want to take advantage of it.”