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Clippers' season review: Kim Hughes reflects

April 15, 2010 |  7:48 am

If this was going to be his final pregame chat with reporters, well, Clippers' interim head coach Kim Hughes went out the way he came in ... insightful, funny and flat-out honest.

(Don't ever let media trainers get near this guy. In fact, he could train them.)

On Wednesday, Hughes spoke on a wide range of subjects with reporters in his office before the final game of the regular season, against the Lakers, and filled up the notebooks and tape recorders. Yes, he'll be missed.

Early on in the conversation, Hughes mentioned in passing, in reference to his Denver days, that he is "a lot tougher than a lot of people think.”

Could he elaborate?

“They think this is tough,” he said of the Clippers' woes. “This is nothing. Give me a break. If I was George Karl … do you think George Karl would trade places with me? Come on. George Karl is fighting for his life. This is difficulty. This is not duress.”

Hughes spoke about his impressions of the season and addressed the Clippers' future:

"I like our guys. I think this a great potential and great future for next year. I don’t know if I’ll be here. I can’t control that. But I think it’s got great potential. We need to declare who our leader is, determine that and we need to get one free agent at least. And get Blake [Griffin] back, you get those three scenarios, you’re damn good."

Typically, he didn't hold back when asked if he received an honest effort from everyone:

"No. But I understand that," Hughes said. "With free agency, when you have nine guys that are looking for No. 1 first, that’s human nature and their objective is to get a contract for next year first. And that’s unfortunate it’s that way but that's reality."

Perhaps would it be easier, take some of the pressure of Baron Davis, if he was declared not the leader. Davis recently said he hasn't been allowed to lead the Clippers. Hughes didn't buy into the notion of it being better for Davis if he was not the leader.

"No…. I’m going to say to be a leader, you’ve got to be the first one to practice and the last one to leave," Hughes said. "You can’t talk it. You’ve got to walk it. And if you truly are the leader, right now we really don’t have one.

"You’ve got to be there every day at practice, compete every day through minor injuries, minor illnesses. It’s not a job description that you can pick and choose when you want to be a leader. Either you are a leader every time or you’re not. He may not be the leader next year, I don’t know."

Davis has made forward strides this season. Then again, he had a massive amount of ground to make up after his first season with the Clippers.

"I think since I’ve taken over, Baron has shot the ball much better, he’s played much more defense, not shot quite as many threes," Hughes said. "I think he’s tried to be a leader . Hasn’t progressed to that point  yet. Of all the guys, since I’ve taken over, I think Baron has made the biggest progression forward."

-- Lisa Dillman