Clippers work out, build chemistry as possible NBA lockout looms
Twelve men in search of a basketball court.
Or something along those lines.
With an expected NBA lockout looming, Clippers point guard Mo Williams was already planning for the future the other day, suggesting a solution for the (potentially) homeless NBAers
He teased Neil Olshey, the Clippers’ vice president of basketball operations, saying that they should just leave the door unlocked at the team’s fancy Playa Vista headquarters. The players could sneak in under the cover of night, do their work and leave.
“You wouldn’t call the police on us, would you?” Williams said, joking.
Alas, the Clippers players will be doing their work elsewhere starting July 1, barring a stunning labor breakthrough. That reality has worked to produce action on a couple of levels.
First, the Clippers have been showing up, en masse, for daily workouts under the direction of Coach Vinny Del Negro and his staff. Rookie of the year Blake Griffin took his expected five-minute break and was back at it in early May.
Others started filtering back to the area and then the training facility, one by one. Star shooting guard Eric Gordon, who usually spends most of the off-season in his native Indiana, dropped by for a look and came back for an extended visit before leaving for China this week and will return later this month.
One notable absence has been center Chris Kaman, who has been and will be the subject of continuing trade rumors because of his expiring contract. Kaman traditionally does not start his off-season workout regimen until July.
“We’re trying to get everybody together and build the chemistry with everybody in the organization,” Gordon said last week. “At this time of the summer, it’s all about having fun together. The vibe is good. Almost everybody was here the past two weeks. It’s been good for us.
“I started training with the guys when I found out they were all here.”
Williams, who came to the Clippers from Cleveland in the Baron Davis deal at the trade deadline in February, has had an off-season home in northern San Diego County. Now he has been more than willing to make the long commute, about two hours each way, to work out with his teammates in the early off-season.
“It’s a sacrifice,” he said. “But I use the example about a marriage. Everyone is saying being married is hard and just like playing basketball and working out, it’s hard also. The satisfaction you get and results you get from playing basketball is the same satisfaction you get from marriage. Just got to work at it.”
Olshey has been impressed with the leadership qualities of his young core. On this particular day, Griffin was not on hand at practice — attending a friend’s wedding — but has been a fixture throughout May and June.
“If it’s good enough for Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin to be in the gym in May and June, it’s good enough for everybody else,” Olshey said.
And Williams is pledging that they will be together in July and August and beyond if there is a lockout.
The second byproduct of the early workouts is that the Clippers have had the chance to talk about where they might go to play basketball should the doors slam shut.
“We want to be around the organization as much as possible because after that we’re going to be on our own,” Williams said. “And it’s up to me and Blake and E.J. [Gordon] to keep us together. We’ll be somewhere around at a local gym and we’ve spoken and have an idea. We’re going to continue this.”