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Kittles to Seek Options on Back

Clipper guard says he will try alternatives to treat injury. He has played in only 11 games.

February 12, 2005|Jerry Crowe | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Raising questions about whether he will be able to play again this season, Kerry Kittles will return to Los Angeles before the end of the Clippers' trip to seek treatment for a degenerative disk in his back.

"I've got to go try to seek some alternative solutions to try to make it go away," Kittles said Friday of the pain in his lower back.

Said Coach Mike Dunleavy: "At this point, I don't really know. We're probably going to send him someplace to check into something, see different doctors, therapists, get him on another program.

"It doesn't seem like he's getting any better with us right now."

Kittles, a starting guard for seven seasons with the New Jersey Nets and the Clippers' most significant off-season acquisition, has played in only 11 games because of knee, back and groin injuries. He has been sidelined since Jan. 17, when he suffered a strained right groin. His back has pained him for about two months.

"It's been tough in every possible way," Kittles said of his time with the Clippers, who traded for him in July after failing in a bid to land Kobe Bryant and renouncing their rights to restricted free agent Quentin Richardson.

"Physically and mentally, it's been a challenging year for me. The toughest part to deal with is that a lot of it is out of my control. The physical stuff that I'm dealing with, there's nothing I can do about it. Usually, when you're able to play the games, it makes a lot of stuff go away; it washes over a lot of stuff.

"But when you can't play, you've just got to kind of deal with it. Obviously, this team invested a lot in me in making a trade for me and they haven't been able to receive any benefits from that.

"I can understand their level of frustration. But I'm probably more frustrated than them because I haven't been able to play at all. What can I do about it? There's nothing I can do [except] try to get better."

Kittles, who will turn 31 on June 12, is being paid about $9.5 million this season in the last year of his contract. He will be an unrestricted free agent July 1.

"My goals were to come in and play well and get some sort of long-term deal" with the Clippers, he said. "Obviously, I knew the opportunity was there. I wanted to ... find a home for the rest of my career. The team was excited about it, I was excited about it. It seemed like a great fit. And it still does, if I'm healthy....

"From Day 1, just seeing the style of play and where I fit in with this team, it was a great opportunity for me. I try not to think about it that much. I try to put it behind me and just worry about getting back on the court, doing whatever it takes. That's my goal: just to play and be pain-free."

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