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News » Griffin is working on fitting in


Griffin is working on fitting in


Griffin is working on fitting in
Thirty minutes before the Clippers introduce their No. 1 overall draft pick, Blake Griffin is in workout garb. He trots to center court at the Clippers' training facility in Playa Vista, where second-year guard Mike Taylor is putting up shots, sweating like he's cutting grass in a Texas summer.

Griffin leans his 6-foot-10 frame down to the 6-2 Taylor, smiles, and offers a towel.

"Whatever you need, sir," Griffin says.

Fifteen minutes later, Griffin walks out, having exchanged his scrubby outfit for a light-gray vested suit (no purple; he learned his draft-night lesson), and checks in with Taylor, who's still sweating buckets.

"You good? Need anything?" he says.

Taylor laughs.

Oh, the humility.

So Griffin knows his role as a rookie (which, Eric Gordon says, will probably be daily deliveries of doughnuts, Starbucks, Gatorade and fresh towels -- along with whatever else the veterans decide) but knows he's not the savior for a punch-line team of perennial lottery pickers.

"I don't have to be a savior," he said Monday afternoon. "I don't have to be something I'm not. There are so many guys that can help me."

That's a different mind-set than the one he took to Oklahoma. The Sooners team he joined in 2007 was coming off a 16-15 season. Griffin had nearly doubled the win total by last season, leading the team to the Elite Eight.

Can he do the same in L.A.? Can he turn around the Clippers ?

"That's definitely the goal," he says. "The goal is to come in here and try. We don't want to be complacent with where we're at.

"But I don't want to overstep my bounds."

He has other goals too. He wants the Clippers "to be in the playoffs" and hopes "to contribute, to be considered in the running for rookie of the year."

Griffin's contract negotiations with Clippers President Andy Roeser were to begin Monday, said his agent, Sam Goldfeder.

And then there's the NBA Summer League, which for the Clippers begins July 13 when they face the Lakers at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

For those games, Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy said Griffin would be the starting power forward, and the goal would be to get him comfortable, but to let him develop at his own pace.

"He'll have a big leash," Dunleavy said. "Let him run. If he gets tired, we'll pull him back in."

During those games, rebounding will be the first priority, and Dunleavy wants Griffin to develop a pick-and-roll game, like the one he got from Elton Brand. After that, a mid-range jump shot and, eventually, a 15-foot-bank shot.

Dunleavy didn't aim low on comparisons.

"I feel like he's a cross between Charles Barkley and Tim Duncan," Dunleavy said. "He's bigger than Barkley, but he has the quick first step like Barkley, the explosion like Barkley, the big hands like Barkley. He's got the size, the demeanor of a Tim Duncan, the work ethic."

Work ethic, indeed. Griffin finally got to L.A. from New York late Friday, after missing a flight and being delayed on another.

The next morning at 9, Dunleavy and his staff got word that Griffin wanted to work out. So, at 10 a.m., Griffin was in the gym. Same thing Sunday, same thing Monday.

"This is my job now," Griffin said. "College, I had class, whatever. Now, it's a business, and that's the way I look at it."

--

baxter.holmes@latimes.com


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: June 30, 2009

 

 
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