Blake Watch (Monday edition)
"Just have to speak in riddles," Clippers General Manager and Coach Mike Dunleavy said Monday morning at the team's HQ in Playa Vista.
Said Assistant GM Neil Olshey: "There wasn't going to be any mystery involved. We jumped the gun with our excitement."
As chronicled by colleague Mark Heisler in Sunday's paper, the NBA was none too happy with Dunleavy's opting for candor when he told The Times in May, hours after the Clippers won the draft lottery, that, yes, they would be selecting Oklahoma power forward Griffin with the top pick.
(Hey, who among us hasn't flipped ahead in a mystery novel to read the ending?)
Thus, the phones and BlackBerries are only slightly less active for the Clippers than they normally would be in the days leading up to the NBA draft on Thursday.
"There's a lot of talk," Dunleavey said. "A little bit less for us this time around because of where we are and because of our stance on the pick. I haven't talked to anyone about the pick in probably over two weeks, not to say somebody couldn't come in with a last-minute offer. But I doubt anything will happen."
Said Olshey: "The pick is not going anywhere. . . . We have another guy who could potentially be a starter at some point in his career. We're not going to miss an opportunity to add another great young 20-year-old player."
And what of the glut of Clippers big men? A trade to ease the congestion up front could happen around the time of the summer league in Las Vegas, according to one school of thought.
At this point, nothing appears imminent.
"To be honest, we're not putting out feelers for our big men," Olshey said. "I think people think we need to balance our roster and they've made phone calls. None of the deals they've come up with so far give us any motivation to do anything at this point."
Dunleavy only saw Griffin play for the first time in person when the team brought him in for a workout at the Clippers' training facility during the NBA Finals. Olshey watched him in person several times throughout the college season.
"I think he was consistent straight through," he said. "One of the things he's really improved on is his ability to make plays for other people. As the year went on and as dominant as he was, his ability to make plays out of double and triple teams from the low post was a huge jump for him.
"And it made the game a lot easier for some of the guys on his team: Juan Pattillo, Willie Warren, his brother Taylor (Griffin), Austin Johnson. I think that's going to translate for him here. He's going to get a lot of attention and I think he's one of those guys that guys really like to play with.
"...He does the things we need him to do. He rebounds the ball, which means we can run. He runs the floor like a deer and he's unselfish. He's not a black hole in the low post."
Separately, as expected, Dunleavy's longtime assistant coach Jim Eyen has been hired by the Sacramento Kings, joining Paul Westphal's staff. Sacramento made the announcement Monday. Another Clippers assistant coach, Neal Meyer, also could be headed elsewhere, possibly to Cleveland.
-- Lisa Dillman
Photo: Former Oklahoma standout Blake Griffin. Credit: Jeff Roberson / Associated Press