ODOM AND HILL INJURIES WILL BE EVALUATED DAILY

Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro talked about the status of veteran reserves Lamar Odom and Grant Hill after Tuesday’s practice. “We need to get those guys as healthy as possible as quick as possible,” he said.

Veterans Lamar Odom and Grant Hill did not practice Tuesday and according to Head Coach Vinny Del Negro, the reserve duo will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis as to their playing status.

“[Lamar] and Grant have some bone bruises [in their knees],” Del Negro said prior to Monday’s game with the Golden State Warriors. “Grant’s is probably a little worse than Lamar’s but everyone handles those things a little bit differently, your body responds differently. They’re doing all the things that don’t have anything to do with pounding; the ellipticals, the pool, all the conditioning things they can.”

After the Clippers finished their hour-and-a-half-long workout at their Playa Vista training facility, Del Negro spent several minutes answering questions about Hill and Odom’s injury situations. “They had their MRIs. They had their medical exams,” he said. “They see the doctors, trainers, they still have their workouts. I expect Lamar to be back sooner than Grant.

“Since there’s time right now we’re trying to take the pounding off of them with all the things that we have here at our disposal we want to use properly. They’re two veteran guys. We’d love to have them out there right now, but we also want to manage the injuries the correct way because we do have a little time here with the preseason and things. Does it set us back a little bit?

Yeah, because they’re not out there, but we also have to look at the big picture. We need to get those guys as healthy as possible as quick as possible and this is the action we’re taking with it.”

The Clippers have two preseason games remaining (Wednesday versus the Lakers and Thursday at Denver) before opening the season on Wednesday, Oct. 31 against the Memphis Grizzlies. The near-week break between games could be advantageous for Odom and Hill.

“There’s a chance [they could be back by opening night],” Del Negro said. “I don’t know. It’s on a day-to-day basis how they feel and when they practice. I mean, they have to get some practice time in, so we’ll see who’s available probably Monday or Tuesday’s practice and then go from there.”

Odom averaged 17 minutes in the first three preseason games of the year, showing the versatility that made him an offseason target for the Clippers in his third outing against the Heat in Shanghai. He finished with four points, three assists, and two rebounds in 20 minutes and helped the vaunted Clippers bench unit pull away during a key stretch in the second quarter.

Hill was active for both games in China as well, after sitting out the Clippers’ preseason opener in Las Vegas. He scored 5.0 points with 3.5 rebounds in 14.5 minutes per game.

Shortly after returning from China, though, Odom and Hill were relegated to non-contact conditioning.

“It was kind of a continuous thing and it got to a point where we were like, ‘We’re not making any progress here. Let’s be proactive and let’s sit down for a while,’” Del Negro said. “Injuries happen. We haven’t had anything severe. Injuries are going to happen. It’s part of it.”

Even with Odom, Hill and guard Chauncey Billups (Achilles) out of the lineup, the Clippers boast a considerable amount of depth. So far the talent level on the Clippers bench has helped them withstand the absence of three key contributors.

“Having depth is a positive thing for us, no question about it and we’re going to use that to our advantage,” Del Negro said.

Forward Blake Griffin agreed, saying, getting assimilated with new players on the roster is made easier because the team is dealing with veterans. “Most of the guys have practiced. Lamar was out there for a while and once his knees are feeling better [he’ll be back]. Grant we want him to take his time and really feel healthy and not to rush anything. It’s tough to say how everything is going to work out when we have all these guys, but I’d rather have it that way than the other way around.”