There was a point at the start of the summer, way back in June, when you could picture the Clippers being better than the Lakers this season. The Lakers were what they were, the Clippers had young pieces like Blake Griffin that should be improving.
Then Steve Nash and Dwight Howard happened. And now in Los Angeles once again are an afterthought (at least if you read the papers or listen to sports talk radio).
Blake Griffin, he doesn’t care. He’s pumped about the Clippers — who added Jamal Crawford and Lamar Odom — and is not sold on the Lakers, as he told the Oklahoman while back at his alma mater.
Griffin said he’s “very excited” about where the additions have placed the Clippers but added that Howard’s arrival in Los Angeles have overshadowed those and others around the league.
“There’s a lot of great teams and a lot of good talent as well,” Griffin said. “It’s funny because the Heat have managed to somehow fly under the radar this summer and they added Ray Allen. So we can’t forget about all these other teams. We can’t worry about just the Lakers.”
The Lakers are getting all the buzz because that’s what the new teams get, and when it’s a superteam in a major market it is moreso. But Griffin’s point about the West is valid and he also used the common “on paper” comment about the Lakers.
“On paper it looks great,” Griffin said during a recent visit to Norman. “People said the same thing when we got C.P., Chris Paul. But they still got to go out there and play…
“I think there’s a lot of tough teams in the Western Conference. There’s one right here (in Oklahoma City) that the Lakers have to get over,” Griffin said. “The Spurs have been a good team for the past 500 years. And I think we’re preparing for that. So that’s kind of what you expect people to do. You expect them to hand out the trophy in the middle of the summer. So we’re not worried about that. We’re not worried about just the Lakers.”
Through the first two weeks of training camp, the Pelicans have seen their frontcourt depth decimated by injuries to Alexis Ajinca and Omer Asik, both of whom are out for a few weeks. A deal with Greg Smith fell through after he failed a physical. Now, Yahoo’s Marc Spears reports that they’re signing former Knicks and Nets center Jerome Jordan as a short-term solution:
Jordan has only played 65 games in his career and hasn’t been spectacular, but the Pelicans need a body while their two centers are out. Anthony Davis will spend some time at center, but considering the contracts Asik and Ajinca got this summer, Alvin Gentry clearly plans on playing him at power forward as well, and they need a center to at least fill time before Asik and Ajinca get back.
He’s back in practice with the Cavaliers, but there’s still no clarity on whether Kevin Love will be available for the season opener. Love had shoulder surgery in April after suffering a torn labrum in Game 4 of the Cavs’ first-round series against the Celtics, and doctors initially gave him a timetable of four to six months for a return. The six-month end of that is right around opening night (October 27), but Love still doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play against the Bulls—although he is hopeful.
Via the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney:
“I feel pretty good,” Love told Sporting News. “As far as the opener goes, I am not completely sure. I’ll probably get with the doctors and see what they have to say. I know that my six-month post-op is coming up here pretty fast. As far as getting the strength back, getting the range of motion, I feel pretty good, so I am looking forward to getting into some more contact, getting into a rhythm and getting out there as quickly as I can.”
Love has been cleared for 3-on-3 practices, but not yet for 5-on-5. If it were up to him, he’d be back on the court, but he understands he needs to follow the rehab protocol for his injury.
“(Six months is) just a ballpark figure that has generally been thrown out there by anybody who has talked about the rehab process for this kind of an injury,” Love said. “I like to think that I am ahead of the game, but there’s different tests and the due diligence that the doctor will go through and the training staff will go through. So all I can do is go out there every day and attack my rehab and hopefully I will be able to go out there and help these guys as soon as possible.”
At the very least, the Cavs will be without Kyrie Irving (still recovering from knee surgery) and Iman Shumpert (out up to three months with a wrist injury), and probably Tristan Thompson too, unless his contract situation changes unexpectedly. So having Love available would be some much-needed good news. But it’s more important that Love (and everyone else) is healthy for the playoffs. If he’s not ready to play, there’s no need to rush back for an October game.