Davis’ fit­ness level not yet where it needs to be

Los Angeles Times - - College Football - Lisa Dill­man lisa.dill­man@latimes.com twit­ter.com/re­al­lisa

Diet guru Jenny Craig’s num­ber is not on speed dial over at Clip­pers head­quar­ters.

The Clip­pers, who will hold their first prac­tice on Tues­day, aren’t alarmed about the fit­ness level of

Baron Davis, a one­time pitch­man for Craig. You might call it mea­sured con­cern.

That was the newsworthy point Mon­day, along with valid is­sues of two play­ers re­cov­er­ing from knee surgery ( Randy Foye and Craig Smith) and keep­ing Blake Grif­fin from push­ing too hard, too fast and not let­ting shoot­ing guard Eric

Gor­don burn out. New Clip­pers Coach Vinny Del Ne­gro wasn’t even five min­utes into his first ses­sion with re­porters at me­dia day when he expressed con­cern about the shape of the vet­eran point guard, Davis. How far off is Davis? “Per­cent­age-wise, I’d be guess­ing,” Del Ne­gro said. “He’s put in a lot of work in the last month or so. He started a lit­tle bit later prob­a­bly than he needed to. He’s in pretty good shape right now, but he’s not where he needs to be. He knows that.

“Ob­vi­ously, you want ev­ery­body in per­fect con­di­tion. You have to come in train­ing camp in shape. And the job in train­ing camp is to get into bet­ter shape.”

None of his words were said in a harsh tone.

But it was in­ter­est­ing that the Clip­pers weren’t sug­ar­coat­ing the sit­u­a­tion. In fact, Del Ne­gro and frontof­fice ex­ec­u­tives told Davis be­fore­hand ex­actly what they were go­ing to say to the me­dia.

Del Ne­gro said he would also be mon­i­tor­ing the other play­ers com­ing off in­juries.

“If there was a game to­mor­row … all those guys would be able to play,” Del Ne­gro said. “But there isn’t a game to­mor­row, so I want to be smart about their health and their devel­op­ment.”

Grif­fin is tak­ing those words to heart. The No. 1 over­all draft choice in 2009, he sat out all of the reg­u­lar sea­son be­cause of a stress frac­ture in his left kneecap, and he sat out the first few days of train­ing camp last year.

He said he has learned to pace him­self, not an easy task.

“I feel like I’m re­ally ready to go this year,” Grif­fin said. “I know what train­ing camp is like. I know what pre­sea­son games are like. Now it’s just a mat­ter of get­ting all that to­gether and com­plet­ing a full sea­son.”

Ka­man steps up

At the other end of the spec­trum is the long­est-tenured Clip­per, cen­ter Chris

Ka­man, now start­ing his eighth sea­son. He was mar­ried in the off-sea­son and seems to be tak­ing his se­nior sta­tus se­ri­ously.

At Del Ne­gro’s sug­ges­tion, Ka­man took about 10 of his team­mates over to Catalina Is­land on his boat last week.

Ka­man, 28, bluntly told Del Ne­gro that he was “in a tough po­si­tion” as the new Clip­pers coach.

“I think it’s one of the great­est chal­lenges of coaches that come and try to coach the Clip­pers,” Ka­man said.

“There’s al­ways tal­ented play­ers. But get­ting them to go well to­gether is huge. I think he can. And I hope he does. …This is tough for any­body. Es­pe­cially with a rep­u­ta­tion, try­ing to break that rep­u­ta­tion. Peo­ple say a lot of stuff about the Clip­pers. We have to be pos­i­tive about it.”

Etc.

Davis, in an up­beat mood, said he was not far off in terms of his shape, say­ing it was more an is­sue of con­di­tion­ing. But it is sig­nif­i­cant con­sid­er­ing his oft-stated de­sire to re­turn to a fast­paced run­ning game.

He did laugh when asked about an In­ter­net re­port last month that put his weight at a whop­ping 260 pounds. That would mean plenty of dou­ble-dou­bles, right?

“A lot of peo­ple kept ask­ing me, ‘Are you 260 pounds?’ I’m like, ‘No, where did you hear that from?’ ” Davis said.

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