By Mitch Chortkoff
Based on my actions of the last 30 years or so, I made a startling decision last Friday.
Without question, if the Lakers were playing that night I’d go there. It’s been my work. I need to know what’s going on with the team.
But reality set in. The story wasn’t at the Lakers’ game. They’re out of playoff contention and they were playing the Sacramento Kings, a similarly awful team.
No, I needed to spend the day at the Clippers’ training facility, where there was plenty of action.
The Clippers, one of the Western Conference’s best teams, are acting like a championship contender, which they are.
They had upgraded their roster a few weeks ago by signing Hegu Turguglo, one of the veteran players being bought out by unsuccessful teams.
Then, last week the Clippers signed 290-pound forward Glen (Big baby) Davis, giving them another roster upgrade.
Finally, the Clippers beat out the San Antonio Spurs for former all-star forward Danny Granger.
That’s an eye opener.
At the Clippers’ facility in Playa Vista I learned that Granger has signed for the rest of the season with the Clippers and has a player option for next season at the league’s minimum salary.
If he plays well this season he may be sought for much more money next season by another team. But, at least, if his recovery from an injury reduces his contribution this season he still has a contract here.
“I played for Indiana the last eight years but in the NBA we all know each other and I’m quite familiar with Doc Rivers’ coaching,” said Granger. “I decided this would be a good fit for me.
“Then I called (former Indiana teammate) David West and asked him about Chris Paul. “He said Chris is an ideal point guard, which confirmed what I thought.”
I saw a Clippers executive after practice and observed the team has shocked the NBA world by adding these three players.
“I thought we shocked the NBA world when we hired Doc Rivers,” he replied.
He was right. But doing it a second time adds to the Clippers’ new image of being serious about winning.
The NBA roster limit remains at 15 so the Clippers had to clear spots. They sent center Byron Mullens to the Philadelphia 76ers and forward Antwan Jamison to the Atlanta Hawks. Neither had contributed much although both seemed like helpful veterans when the season began.
Now that he Clippers have three new forwards, all with playoff experience, it’s proper to wonder how they’ll fit in.
Could Granger become a starter?
“I don’t know,” said Rivers.
What about Davis?
“I don’t know,” said Rivers again. ‘We have 20 more games before the playoffs to figure those things out.”
Matt Barnes has been doing very well at small forward since he replaced slumping Jared Dudley as the starter.
Blake Griffin has been on a sensational streak and is living up to the hype which has surrounded him the last few years. He has worked hard to improve his game and took a leadership role when Paul missed 20 games with a shoulder injury.
“Last summer he was making commercials at our facility but he made the entire crew wait until he finished his workout,” said Rivers. ‘That really impressed me.”