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Clippers update: Baron Davis out with knee injury

November 1, 2010 |  7:44 pm

Baron Davis will be missing his first game of the season because of swelling in his left knee, thrusting  raw rookie Eric Bledsoe into the fray as starting point guard.

That's almost like a side plot.

Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro made a point of pulling Davis aside for a long chat after Sunday's disaster against Dallas. And Del Negro was remarkably blunt Monday in his assessment of the point guard and his lack of fitness during a pregame session with the media.

The Times' T.J. Simers asked Del Negro before Monday's game against the Spurs if Davis was a bad role model.

“No. I don’t think he’s a bad role model," Del Negro said. "I just think Baron knows he was behind in his conditioning and he’s had to work so hard to get in condition that he put some extra strain on his knee. That causes a lot of problems for everybody, for Baron, for the team, for everyone involved. So he needs to be a leader and a catalyst for this team. By not preparing the right way, it’s hurting himself and more importantly, it’s hurting the group. He knows that."

Simers: "You basically said yes."

VDN: "Yeah, he knows that. He’s got to grow. He’s got to get smarter about it. He’s not 22 anymore. He’s 31. He’s got to do a better job in the off-season in conditioning, keeping himself in condition. Understanding his responsibility. He needs to play."

Back to the issue of bad role modeling. . . .

"I don’t want to say he’s a bad role model because I think Baron is a good guy," Del Negro said. "Baron has incredible amounts of talent and ability but his focus needs to be on staying in condition and playing at a high level.

"He hasn’t  done that for awhile. I know he’s frustrated with that. I know there’s things he has to do to correct that. And we’ve tried to put him in a position to correct that. This is a setback right now obviously with his knee. Hopefully we can monitor that and get him back as soon as possible. When he comes back he needs to come back healthy, that can affect the team in a positive way."

Put it this way: The early signs here are making the relationship between Davis and previous Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy look practically warm and fuzzy. They didn't start having obvious, visible issues until, well, weeks into the first season Davis was here in L.A.

--Lisa Dillman

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