Although the addition of long-range shooter Tim Thomas was the only significant change to the roster from last season, the Clippers figured they would improve if fourth-year center Chris Kaman and third-year point guard Shaun Livingston continued to develop as expected.
Last season, Kaman and Livingston played key roles in the team's most successful season in California, which ended in the Western Conference semifinals. To this point, however, Kaman and Livingston have not produced as the Clippers had envisioned.
"Well, I think that's true," Coach Mike Dunleavy said. "Obviously, those were the areas we were hoping to have our biggest improvements in, but we're looking at everybody. Everybody owns a piece of where we are."
Kaman established career highs in his third season, averaging 11.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.38 blocked shots in 32.8 minutes. General Manager Elgin Baylor and Dunleavy thought so highly of Kaman that they persuaded owner Donald T. Sterling to reward the 7-foot, 260-pound player with a $52-million contract extension before Kaman could test the free-agent market.
Livingston was sidelined the first 21 games last season because of a back injury but finished strong down the stretch in the regular season and showed encouraging signs of asserting himself in the playoffs.
But Kaman, who has had nagging injuries, is averaging 10.1 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 28.8 minutes. His field-goal percentage has dropped to 45.8% from 52.3% in the 2005-06 season.
Livingston is averaging personal bests at 9.4 points and 5.3 assists while shooting a career-high 45.1% from the field.
But the Clippers said they need more from Livingston, who didn't take command while Sam Cassell sat out eight games in late December and early January because of a heel injury.
"A lot is expected of those guys, just like a lot is expected of everyone on the team," power forward and co-captain Elton Brand said. "With the way they played last year, we all expected them to take a big step, but it hasn't really happened yet the way it could.
"Sam is playing a lot of minutes, probably more minutes than anyone expected him to play, but we're only just past the halfway point. There's still time for it to happen, but everyone on the team has a job to do."
Veteran point guard Alvin Williams, whose 10-day contract expires today, will not receive another contract, a Clippers spokesman said.