LOS ANGELES — They gathered at Galen Center on Tuesday to practice for the public, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan and the rest under the direction of Doc Rivers.
Uh, wait a second. Blake? And D.J.? And Doc?
You mean … the Clippers?
Yes, the Clippers! They’re still here, folks, one of the old standbys in a market now bloated with teams and teeming with stories.
They’re still here, even if it feels like Chris Paul hijacked the franchise when he left for Houston.
They’re still here, even though they conducted training camp in Hawaii, 2,500 miles away, an entire team – appropriately enough – cast off to a remote island.
They’re still here, even if the Lakers are again the local NBA entrant attracting all the attention, LaVar Ball easily supplanting Rivers as the most famous basketball dad in the Southland.
The Clippers are still here, and they went out and proved it by staging a workout open to their fans.
The event also was open to anyone who might have forgotten this team existed in the clamor surrounding the Dodgers and the Rams and whatever team the Chargers are playing.
Everyone likes to talk about how tough a sports market L.A. can be, about how teams either win here or wither here.
While that remains true, the Clippers also face the perhaps impossible task of trying to be relevant while reinventing themselves minus their most recognizable player and doing so in the shadow of the Lakers’ exploding popularity.
In other words, same old Clippers, right?
Not exactly. There’s more, which is to say, there’s less, potentially. The Clippers might not be very good anymore, either. They certainly aren’t expected to be as good as they were the past six seasons.
The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas put the over/under for Clippers victories at 43.5, placing them just behind Denver and tied with Miami.
That total would have them finishing seventh in the Western Conference and, based on the Westgate’s complete forecast, opening the playoffs against…