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Clippers try to move forward

PRO BASKETBALL

They have a lot to talk about after losing 63 games and being routed by the Thunder in their season finale.

April 17, 2009|Lisa Dillman

You can argue that the "exit" in the phrase "exit interviews" started a long time ago for the Clippers, and they practically had both feet out the door and bags packed by the time their last game rolled around, a 41-point loss to Oklahoma City on Wednesday.

The official exit interviews between Clippers General Manager and Coach Mike Dunleavy and his players started Thursday at the team's Playa Vista training facility; the rest, including one with Baron Davis, will be held today.

A preview of Dunleavy's message came Wednesday when he threatened suspensions should any player report to training camp out of shape.

Did that message get through to his 19-win team?

Season is over. I'm sitting here with nothing to do! Off to the gym.

That was written by Davis on his Twitter page Thursday.

Davis, of late, has been saying all the right things. But unless he posts video of himself working out with a drill-sergeant type in the summer, the true extent of his commitment to get in great shape won't be known until camp.

Meanwhile, it's fair to say that last summer's roster tumult won't be repeated.

"I don't think there will be as much change," Dunleavy said. "There could be some change . . . so we'll have a base to go off of.

"I have a commitment from guys who were hurt by this season and didn't enjoy it and didn't want any part of the outcome, that are taking the bull by the horns and saying, 'No, I'm coming [back] early. I'm doing this and that. These are the areas I'm getting better in.'

"Nobody enjoyed what we went through. All the guys I talked to today, all felt that way."

The emotions seemed to include frustration, suppressed anger and embarrassment on Wednesday, the low point being humbled by the lowly Thunder in the finale.

"I approach it as unfinished business," said a subdued Marcus Camby. "I still feel confident in the core group that we have. . . .

"With the talent we have on this team, it's been extra frustrating. Coach talked about putting all this behind us, and focusing on things we need to do this summer. To come back in better shape and come back as better players, and teammates. Hopefully, guys take that to heart."

The common thread on Wednesday and Thursday was the growth of rookie guard Eric Gordon, on and off the court. Gordon spoke up after the Thunder game and was blunt, and you could see the descriptive word, rookie, slipping away from his name.

"This is almost a disaster," Gordon said. "As talented as this team is, we have one of the worst records in the league. There's no way that should happen. . . .

"We didn't play hard. We need to all compete as a team instead of just some players individually. We just need to come out and play hard every game. Even though this is a long season, losing makes it feel even longer."

--

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

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