Clippers forward Blake Griffin underwent successful arthroscopic surgery… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
On the day Blake Griffin had arthroscopic surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee, Chauncey Billups held a news conference at the Clippers' training facility Monday to explain why he wanted to remain with the team.
The Clippers also made contact with free-agent forward Grant Hill, who appeared less likely to join the Lakers despite conversations with Kobe Bryant and Coach Mike Brown.
The Lakers, however, continued to move toward possibly signing free-agent forward Antawn Jamison, who was expected to decide this week whether to take a huge salary decrease to play for a team with championship aspirations.
Before Griffin had the procedure Monday, performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic, Billups talked with his injured teammate to offer encouragement and to let him know that Griffin, Chris Paul and the rest of the team had played major roles in his decision to return.
The Clippers expect Griffin to make a full recovery in about eight weeks and to be ready for the start of training camp in October.
"I think that he'll be back healthy soon," Billups said, "and he'll be back to the same old incredible Blake Griffin."
Griffin, who just signed a five-year, $95-million contract extension, suffered the knee injury Wednesday during a U.S. Olympic team practice in Las Vegas.
It's the same knee Griffin injured during a 2009 exhibition game before his rookie year with the Clippers. But the current injury is unrelated to and less serious than the previous one, a stress fracture to the kneecap that required season-ending surgery (also by ElAttrache).
Billups had drawn interest from other teams but said re-signing with the Clippers, for one year and $4.3 million, had been "Plan A" all along — though he acknowledged it was something he wouldn't have considered before he was acquired by L.A. after the New York Knicks used their one-time amnesty provision to waive him last December.
"I said all along, I wanted to be back here," Billups said. "I see something special with what we have and I want to milk it."
Billups, a 14-year NBA veteran, said that before last season he "did not want to be a part" of the "reputation the Clippers once had." But that all changed once he arrived, and now, he said, it's "more on the line of what I like."
Billups still is recovering from a torn left Achilles' tendon that forced him to miss the Clippers' final 46 games last season. The team has said it doesn't expect him to play before December, but he maintained that he planned on playing "all 82 games this year."
Billups has another goal for the Clippers.
"I'm talking about winning the West," Billups said. "That's the way that I think and hopefully that's reciprocated throughout the locker room and throughout the organization."
Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro met with Hill, 39, Sunday in Las Vegas to gauge his interest, according to NBA executives who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
The Clippers have two potential tools they could use to sign Hill — the biannual exception, a maximum two-year deal starting at $1.9 million for the first season, or the veteran's minimum, which would be $1.3 million for a player with Hill's 17 years of NBA experience. They also could try to execute a sign-and-trade that would send Ryan Gomes and his $4-million salary to Phoenix, Hill's former team.
Jamison, 36, made $15.1 million last season with Cleveland and planned to continue conversations with the Lakers on Tuesday. Because they are so far over the luxury-tax threshold, the Lakers can offer him only a contract in the range of $1.4 million to $3.1 million next season. Jamison averaged 17.2 points last season with the Cavaliers but shot only 40.3%. He would be a reserve with the Lakers.
Also, the Clippers announced they will play two exhibition games in China against the NBA champion Miami Heat — Oct. 11 in Beijing and Oct. 14 in Shanghai.
Times staff writer Mike Bresnahan contributed to this report.