Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Blake Griffin isn't Vegas-bound ... yet
By Dave McMenamin
LOS ANGELES -- With team training camps in jeopardy of starting late or being wiped out completely as the NBA lockout drags on past the two-month mark, several members of the Los Angeles Clippers are planning on taking the court together.
But rather than staging an impromptu player-run training camp at UCLA, LMU or any of the other L.A. hotbeds for hoops, the players are heading to Las Vegas.
Starting Monday at Impact Basketball Academy just a couple miles off the Las Vegas Strip, longtime NBA trainer Joe Abunassar will host approximately 40 current NBA players for a nearly two-week long "Competitive Training Series" of officiated games culminating in playoffs and a championship game on Sept. 23.
ESPNNewYork.com reported on Tuesday that Clippers forward Al-Farouq Aminu is among the group slated to participate. The New York Times reported last week that the Clippers will also be represented by guard Mo Williams and center DeAndre Jordan.
Abunassar told ESPNNewYork.com he expects the league to be made up of six to eight teams of seven to eight players, with NBA teammates playing together when possible.
The question remains as to whether last season's Rookie of the Year, Blake Griffin, will join his teammates in Sin City.
Griffin's agent, Sam Goldfeder, told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Wednesday that Griffin is not scheduled to play as of right now, but that could change.
Griffin, who first donned a Clippers uniform two summers ago during the Las Vegas Summer League with NBA commissioner David Stern watching from a courtside seat, has largely avoided the pickup game circuit that featured NBA stars playing in small gyms across the country this summer during the work stoppage.
Rather than play in L.A.'s fabled Drew League, Griffin secured an internship at Funny Or Die, the comedy website co-founded by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Later in the summer Griffin returned to his alma mater for Oklahoma's "Legends Alumni Game," but instead of playing in the exhibition, he merely threw up the ceremonial tipoff to begin the game's second half and watched from the stands.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com and Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com contributed to this report.