Playa Vista - The Los Angeles Clippers Training Facility opened its doors to NBA players on Thursday, Dec. 1. Clippers forward Brian Cook was the first to enter, followed by the arrival of reigning Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin a little after 11:00 a.m.
While players began arriving on Thursday, the action for the Clippers Basketball Operations Department started early on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 6 a.m. when Vice President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey and Head Coach Vinny Del Negro began making phone calls to players and prospective free agents.
We have been preparing for this since July 1st Olshey said. We knew the shotgun would go off at some point.
The first calls Olshey made were to the agents of Clippers guard Eric Gordon, who is eligible for a contract extension and center DeAndre Jordan, who is currently a restricted free agent.
It is a little bit easier for us in some sense because we know that our players are our top priority, Olshey said. They are a part of our core and we have made it no secret that we are trying to re-sign those players [Eric Gordon and DeAndre Jordan] and keep this core group intact and put the right pieces around them. That has been our strategy since we got started yesterday.
With the opening of training camp emerging rapidly on the horizon, Del Negro is aware of the pressure of building up and getting his team together in a short period of time.
It is great to be back, Del Negro said. There are still a lot of things to be done in the next week or two, but things are moving in the right direction. Its not easy, but everyone is in the same situation. You just have to manage it the best you can.
Like Olshey, Del Negro is excited about the prospect of improving an already exciting Clippers club.
Were looking at all different options to improve the team, Del Negro said. We have some great flexibility. Neil has done a great job preparing us for this situation, and we want to take advantage of it. It is going to be a busy month, and we are always trying to add, trying to improve.
Even while looking over his roster of burgeoning young talent, Olshey knows there are ways to enhance the team.
We have to upgrade our production at the 3 position, Olshey said. [Al-Farouq] Aminu showed flashes of brilliance last year, that is why we drafted him. He is going to be really good. But, we need to accelerate the production at that position and we need to get guys on the floor that can really contribute right now. That is our biggest concern from a free agent standpoint. I think we are becoming more of a destination, which is our goal. We are in a destination market, we have destination type facilities and resources and now we have a destination roster. It certainly makes picking up the phone a lot easier. Thats what we have to do here. We have to create a culture and environment where players want to come here.