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Old 12-09-2011, 05:22 PM   #1
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Default Training Camp News

The afternoon of December 9 could be the start of something big.
A run to the playoffs?

Perhaps, even more.

The Clippers will conduct their first practice of the new season Friday and the team is bustling with an aura of confidence that has been relatively muted over the last few years.

“It sounds like something every team says before the season starts, but this comes from my soul,” point guard Mo Williams said. “I’m being honest. There’s no way we’re not going [to the playoffs]. Obviously, our goal is to stay healthy, but at the same time we’ve got the talent, we’ve got the coaching staff, we’ve got all the qualities a playoff team needs.”

On Thursday, about 24 hours after Williams made his playoff guarantee, it was widely reported by numerous news sources that the Clippers had potentially added another piece to their already promising mix in free agent forward Caron Butler.

After what is expected to be approximately a 3-hour workout on Friday the team will run practice again on Saturday and then hold its first two-a-day session on Sunday.

“Our roster is intact for the most part. It is only going to get upgraded,” Vice President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey said. “The coaching staff is back and that can accelerate how much more effective we are going to be. I don’t want to speak for [Coach] Vinny [Del Negro], but I think practice is going to be more efficient because you don’t have the learning curve we had last year.”

While the Clippers have added Butler and second round picks Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, the rest of the youthful roster is returning. Cornerstones Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon are back. As are veterans like Williams, Ryan Gomes, and Randy Foye, all of whom arrived last season. Second-year men Al-Farouq Aminu and Eric Bledsoe have a year of NBA experience to draw from. And center Chris Kaman, the longest tenured Clipper, is back as well.

All of this makes for what looks to be one of the deepest and most exciting rosters in the league.

The well-known foundation is Gordon and Griffin, who, along with Williams, was deeply involved in organizing team workouts during the lockout.
“A lot of guys have been in L.A. playing pick-up [games],” Griffin said. “It has been productive, but at the same time we are glad to be back.”

Still, the roster is young, which opens up teaching opportunities, particularly early in camp.

“The development process of our young players will be a high priority as always,” Del Negro said. “I like where we are at, but we know we have work to do.”

The work begins Friday and while Williams may have been the most vocal about the Clippers’ ambitions, others are following suit.

“We haven’t made the playoffs yet, but we were a good team last year,” said Foye, who’s beginning his second season in L.A. “We played well in some stretches, but there were other stretches where we didn’t play as well, so I think that is our goal.”

And when Gordon was asked if he heard Williams’ stance on the playoffs, the budding star responded accordingly.

“Yeah, I did. I am right along with them, I guarantee it, too.

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