One week into training camp, Clipper owner Donald Sterling breezed into Palm Desert Friday, engaging Coach Mike Dunleavy in a sideline chat, greeting Corey Maggette with a hug and, in a brief off-the-record meet-and-greet with reporters, praising Elton Brand as a gentleman.
Among those undoubtedly taking note was Quentin Richardson, who will be a free agent next summer, as Maggette and Brand were this past summer. Sterling, reversing decades of tightfisted tradition, lavished a combined $124 million on Brand and Maggette.
He lured Dunleavy with a four-year, $10-million contract.
Richardson wants his too. But last season's Clipper implosion, he said, has taught him that a me-first attitude will get him nowhere.
"Basically, I learned that we all look bad when we play that selfish style," he said. "I feel like I'm in a position where, as long as my team does well and I'm out there contributing to that, in the end I'll be taken care of, contract-wise."
Penciled in as the starting shooting guard, Richardson will try to erase memories of an injury-marred season in which he averaged 9.4 points, down four from the previous season, while making a career-low 37% of his shots.
"Of course, every player wants to play well and get the contract they want," he said. "You want to get paid so you're financially set
"You've got to think about it and say, 'OK, I can go about it two ways.' I can say, 'I'm going to go out and score points and not really care about anything else,' or you can go out and say, 'If I play this way and I help my team win, I'll still look good.' "
Chris Kaman, recuperating from a back injury, showed no ill effects a day after taking contact for the first time Wednesday night.
Although Dunleavy said the rookie center is "a couple of weeks behind" in terms of preparation, the coach indicated that Kaman might be able to play in Tuesday night's exhibition opener at Sacramento.
"If he's not hurting," Dunleavy said, "I'll try to give him some minutes."