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Clippers' trade hits a snag

November 25, 2008|Lisa Dillman | Dillman is a Times staff writer

Zach Randolph, holding court about not being on the court Monday, didn't hold back when asked about the inevitable comparisons to a certain former Clipper.

"Elton Brand isn't better than me, anyway," he said, playfully.

The question is: Will Clippers fans get to find that out?

Nothing is ever simple around here in the world of the Clippers, and why should their four-player deal with the Knicks be any different?

The power forward, Randolph, and guard Mardy Collins were acquired on Friday from the Knicks in exchange for shooting guard Cuttino Mobley and forward Tim Thomas when the Clippers were in Philadelphia to play against Brand and the 76ers.

Now there is a holdup in the deal because it appears the Knicks have some additional questions about Mobley's existing heart condition, which has never caused him to miss any games or any extended period of time. The Knicks have raised concerns about his health and have yet to sign off on the deal, according to a source familiar with the situation but not authorized to discuss it publicly.

It is believed all four players involved in the trade have had physicals, and the Knicks were merely seeking more medical information. They have until 3:30 p.m. today to sign off on the trade.

The Clippers had hoped that Randolph and Collins would be in uniform for the game against New Orleans at Staples Center, a 99-87 Hornets victory behind forward David West's 27 points and Chris Paul's triple-double (14 points, 17 assists, 10 rebounds). The Clippers are 2-12.

"We're confident that both of our players will be in uniform on Wednesday," said Clippers President Andy Roeser.

None of the four is eligible to play for his new team, or even practice, until the trade is finalized. Clippers Coach and General Manager Mike Dunleavy had said when the trade was made that Monday would be the earliest the players would be available.

Dunleavy was asked whether Mobley's heart condition had ever posed a problem when he was with the Clippers.

"Never. All I know is if he has had anything, he has been asymptomatic," Dunleavy said. "He's never had any issue with us. There's never been one time he's missed a practice, missed a game. . . . I don't really know. From the standpoint of all our guys and all our medicals, there haven't been any issues for us. I was told by our doctors that the things of concern are not something we haven't known about or had any issues with."

He was asked about the delay in getting Randolph in the lineup.

"It's a little frustrating, but ultimately as long as it gets done, then I'll be fine," Dunleavy said. "We hoped they'd clear it by shoot-around [Monday morning] where our guys could go through the shoot-around with us.

"I got the call, 'They can't do shoot-around. In two hours, we should be done. We came back in two hours and it's like, 'It's going to be tomorrow.' There's nothing we can do about it."

It is conceivable the trade could be voided. That seems highly unlikely considering the Knicks made the deal to clear salary-cap space for 2010, presumably in anticipation of making a run at LeBron James.

Another remote possibility: The Knicks could nix the deal and then circle back to try to rework the terms. They had wanted a first-round draft pick and had expressed interest in Marcus Camby in earlier negotiations. The Clippers quickly shut down both of those requests.

If Dunleavy is a little frustrated, the 27-year-old Randolph declared he was "upset" over the developments.

"I'm real bummed," he said. "I don't like sitting around. I haven't played since . . . the last game I played was Tuesday in Boston. That'll be a week ago [today].

"Finding out you can't play just sucks the life out of you. I was talking to my girl. Talking about how mad I was. I was yelling at her, telling her how frustrated I was."

. For the record, he was smiling and joking about yelling.

Either way, the matter should be decided today. Though Randolph did get off a good line when he was asked how he would feel if the uncertainty lingered through Wednesday.

"If I can't play Wednesday, you may not see me," he said.


Rookie guard Eric Gordon had a wild ride, making his first start and then spraining his right ankle just 3:45 into the game . . . and leaving the game to get treatment . . . and then returning to finish with a season-high 25 points. He played 36 minutes, was nine for 18 from the field and hit four three-pointers.


Times staff writer Mark Medina contributed to this report.

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