Blake Griffin says he's 'ready to go'
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin is healthy and ready for the start of training camp. In fact, if the start of camp were moved up to this week as opposed to the actual start date of Oct. 1, he'd still be ready.
"If camp started tomorrow, I'd be ready to go," Griffin said Tuesday. "I could go now if I needed to."
Griffin underwent arthroscopic surgery last month to repair the medial meniscus tear of his left knee he suffered during Team USA's training camp in Las Vegas on July 11, which forced him to miss the Olympics.
"The surgery wasn't one of those things that took a long time (to recover from)," Griffin said. "It was just a matter of getting my strength back and we really took our time with it. I could have been back even earlier than that.
If camp started tomorrow I'd be ready to go. I could go now if I needed to.” -- Blake Griffin
"I just needed to get the swelling out of the knee. That was the biggest battle. There's nothing that needs time to repair or heal. It was just reducing the swelling and getting the strength back in my leg and once I got that, I was out on the court every day."
While Griffin will be ready for the start of training camp, Clippers guards Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups are still recovering from their own injuries. Paul underwent surgery last week to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb while Billups is still recovering from surgery in February to repair a torn left Achilles tendon that put him out for the remainder of the season.
Griffin, speaking at an event to celebrate the 47th birthday of Subway, believes Paul will be back before the season opener on Oct. 31 against the Memphis Grizzlies while Billups could be back soon after.
"I talked with Chris yesterday and I think he'll be back for sure before the start of the season," Griffin said. "Chauncey, I'm not sure. He looks great. He's been in working out and I've seen him the past couple days. He looks really good. He looks like he's ahead of schedule but at the same time, it's not worth it to rush it for him because we do have guys who can fill that void until he is 100 percent healthy."
During the offseason Griffin said he has been working on his mid-range game and his free throws, two areas of concern last season.
"I'm trying to become a more complete player," Griffin said. "I've been working on my shot, working on my free throws, those are two things I've been able to work on a lot because they're stationary."
Paul and Griffin talked over the phone extensively on Monday about their plan for the team once Paul returns to Los Angeles next week. While Paul and Billups will miss most of training camp, they want everyone to be on the same page once the season begins.
"We were just talking about getting guys in," Griffin said. "He's coming back Monday and he'll be in L.A. the remainder of the offseason. So just getting everybody in and even if we can't get everybody to play every single day, it's building that chemistry and building that rapport and we're really looking forward to it.
"Chris is the least of my worries as far as being ready to play. He's pretty much always ready to play and as soon as he's released, he's going to be ready to go."
Building chemistry and rapport will be essential for a Clippers team welcoming in six new players, headlined by Lamar Odom, Jamal Crawford and Grant Hill. Griffin said the offseason acquisitions showed how far the Clippers have come as a franchise, singling out players such as Hill and Billups who essentially chose to finish their careers and chase a championship with the Clippers.
"It's been great to see the Clippers become a destination for free agents in the offseason," Griffin said. "That says a lot about our program and the direction we're going but by no means have we accomplished anything yet, we've just taken a step in the right direction and we have to keep going that way and accomplishing more and more goals.
"This is obviously a great place to play and guys want to come here and the fact that guys toward the end of their career like Grant Hill chose to play here says a lot about our team and the direction we're heading in. It's exciting for us and it's great to be a part of something that's turned the corner."
"It's huge for L.A. basketball. It's great for the Lakers and great for the NBA in general to have all those players on the same team," Griffin said. "It's going to be fun to play against them and I'm looking forward to playing against them. It's going to bring a lot of excitement but they still have to play just like everybody else."
Griffin credited the Clippers' offseason in large part to Gary Sacks, the Clippers' director player personnel, who is the frontrunner to replace Neil Olshey as the general manager after Olshey left to take the general manager job with the Portland Trail Blazers. If it were up to Griffin, Sacks would have already been named the general manager by now.
"I think Gary has put in his time," Griffin said. "He's been with the Clippers for a long time and you see the job he did in stepping in for Neil when he left and the job he's done with the program. All the players love him. He definitely has the player's vote for GM.
"If he doesn't get the GM job I'll be shocked and a little disappointed because I think he deserves it and I think everybody else thinks he deserves it. We're behind Gary 100 percent and hope it's going to be him."
Griffin signed a five-year extension with the Clippers that could be worth as much as $95 million this offseason. Next season, Paul will be due for a long-term extension as well. When Griffin was asked what he plans on doing over the next five years of his contract, he smiled.
"Hopefully winning some championships," he said. "That's the plan."