Griffin working out with no restrictions
The Los Angeles Clippers may not have won the NBA draft lottery for the second year in a row, but they are getting the No. 1 pick.
Last year's No. 1 overall pick, that is.
Blake Griffin, the Oklahoma star who missed all of his rookie season with a stress fracture in his left kneecap, has been fully cleared for all basketball activities.
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"Right now Blake is working out with no restrictions, at full speed, 100 percent to the point where [strength coach] Rich Williams asked me to talk to Blake about dialing it back a little bit," Clippers general manager Neil Olshey said.
"He's working out in May like we were ready to tip off in October. The only guy I feel bad for is the first one of his teammates that shows up and wants to play one-on-one with him."
Griffin injured his knee in the Clippers' final preseason game on October 23. He rested for a few weeks and was hoping to return by the middle of the season. But the recovery process did not go as hoped and he was forced to have season-ending surgery.
"It's been a long year; it's been tough to sit out" Griffin said before the Clippers' final game of the season on April 14. "But from my point of view, my rookie year is next year and I've got an up close and personal look at what I need to do and what I need to be prepared for."
Olshey said that the team is still deciding whether to have Griffin play in the Las Vegas Summer League, where he was MVP last year, though it sounded as though he probably won't.
"Whether or not he defends his title as the summer league MVP, we'll take that as it comes," Olshey said. "But I don't know if we'll expose him to running around with a bunch of rookies and undrafted free agents.
"I don't know if playing five games in Vegas in July really makes a difference for what we need in October. But if he doesn't play with the team, it'll have nothing to do with health issues."
Olshey said that doctors have indicated Griffin's stress fracture was a "freak thing" that won't be a concern now that it's healed properly, and that his knee is actually feeling better than before because his tendonitis healed because of the extended layoff.
"The interesting thing is we're going to end up with a better rookie than we would've nine months ago just because of all the time he's spent in the gym working on his shooting mechanics," Olshey said. "He's in there every day.
"It goes to the type of kid he is. There's almost a guilt there when he saw what the other rookies are doing. He's almost trying to prove to us what we already knew about him, which is that we're not going to find a harder worker or a better kid. "
Ramona Shelburne is columnist and reporter for ESPNLosAngeles.com.