10 Los Angeles Clippers The ever-revolving door brought in Andre Miller, another young star left to wonder: How long can this team keep it together?

October 28, 2002

Fear not, fans of those head-banging brothers of mirth named
Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles. Though three time zones will
separate them, Q and D plan to continue double-tapping fists to
foreheads to punctuate a good play, a ritual the genesis of which
they refuse to reveal. "He'll represent on the East," says the
Clippers' Richardson of his good bud who was traded in July to
the Cavaliers, "and I'll represent on the West."

The 6'6" Richardson is as good a barometer as any of the
Clippers, who could go way up or way down this season.
Unpredictable but extremely talented, Head-banger West has
issues, not to mention an injury, in his case a sprained right
knee, which he twisted during training camp. He remains unhappy
that Miles (with whom he talks almost daily) was unloaded, even
though the prize was Andre Miller, the NBA's assists leader last
season. And though Richardson, 22, acknowledges he was effective
as a high-scoring sixth man last season on this nine- or 10-deep
team, he wants to be a starter even after small forward Lamar
Odom returns from a sprained right ankle next month.

But Q, what if coach Alvin Gentry still wants you to come off the
bench?

"I'll be all right with whatever happens," he says, "but I want
to start."

Such utterances are commonplace in the warped world of
Clipperland. Center Michael Olowokandi made great strides in
2001-02--"He was as good a player as there was in the league over
the last two months," says Gentry--but he is a disenchanted lame
duck, having failed to get a multiyear deal. "All I heard was
that this team was going to keep its key people together, build
something positive," says the Kandi Man. "That's not what
happened with me." As for Odom, no one is sure what to expect,
which is nothing new. He shed his crutches last week, and his
rehabilitation has been quietly questioned by the Clippers'
brass.

Still, there is much positive feeling about the steady Miller.
Referring to Miller's predecessor, Jeff McInnis, Q says, "Now our
point guard won't lead us in field goal attempts again." And
Richardson, despite his desire to start, pledges to do
"everything in my power" to make the Clippers into winners, and
notes how much he enjoyed jamming with season-ticket holders
during an affair at Knott's Berry Farm.

If that type of 'tude prevails, perhaps the Clippers'
head-banging will be done exclusively by Richardson. If not, the
beleaguered Gentry will join him. --J.M.

COLOR PHOTO: BILL BAPTIST/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES HIGH Q While his coach likes him to come off the bench, Richardson thinks his lofty game belongs in the starting lineup. COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH BIG O Odom, who will miss the opener with an ankle injury, is one of many Clippers whose status is up in the air.

FAST FACT
Last season Elton Brand became only the fifth player to average
15 points (he had 18.2 per game) and five offensive boards (5.0).

ENEMY LINES
an opposing team's scout sizes up the Clippers

"Owner Donald Sterling let another summer go by without locking
any of his players into long-term deals. This is his one chance
to have a really good team, and the fans are showing their
support, yet he still refuses to put money into a club that is
the envy of every other franchise in the league.... If they were
playing for just about any other owner, I'd say these guys are
going to make the playoffs. But I doubt that they will because
Michael Olowokandi is headed out the door as a free agent; Elton
Brand, Lamar Odom and Andre Miller become restricted free agents
after the season; and Quentin Richardson, Corey Maggette and
Keyon Dooling will be restricted free agents in the summer of
2004. Those players have to assume that Sterling won't re-sign
them, so will they work together this season, or will it be every
man playing for himself?.... At 24 and with his selflessness,
Miller is the right guy to run this team. He sets an example of
how to play the right way, and with him in charge they'll execute
better late in close games.... I really like Marko Jaric, who can
play both guard spots and even a little three. He can take it to
the basket and finish, but he's going to have to prove that he
can hit the jump shot if he wants to be on the court with Miller,
who isn't a great shooter either.... Olowokandi isn't close to
being a superstar, mainly because he still has a reputation of
not bringing it every night. He's going to have to play well this
year to earn a big contract.... Every team in the NBA would like
to have an athlete like Maggette. He's going to want to have a
breakout year, but I don't know if he'll get the minutes to do
it.... Brand is their leader and best player, but Odom is their
most talented one. Now that they've traded Darius Miles, they're
going to need Odom's skills to make the playoffs. But with his
history of injuries and off-the-court troubles, he's always
questionable."

DEFENSIVE RATINGS

Tough D
MILLER

Fair D
BRAND
OLOWOKANDI

No D
ODOM
PIATKOWSKI

PROJECTED LINEUP
2001-02 record: 39-43 (fifth in Pacific)
Points scored: 95.7 (15th) Points allowed: 96.1 (17th)
Coach: Alvin Gentry (third season with Clippers)

STARTERS PVR* 2001-02 KEY STATS

SF Lamar Odom 71 13.1 ppg 6.1 rpg 5.9 apg 1.24 bpg 41.9 FG%
PF Elton Brand 17 18.2 ppg 11.6 rpg 2.4 apg 2.04 bpg 52.7 FG%
C Michael
Olowokandi 98 11.1 ppg 8.9 rpg 1.1 apg 1.81 bpg 43.3 FG%
SG Eric
Piatkowski 157 8.8 ppg 2.6 rpg 1.6 apg 43.9 FG% 46.6 3FG%
PG Andre
Miller[1] 14 16.5 ppg 4.7 rpg 10.9 apg 1.56 spg 45.4 FG%

BENCH PVR* 2001-02 KEY STATS

G Quentin
Richardson 78 13.3 ppg 4.1 rpg 1.6 apg 43.2 FG% 38.1 3FG%
G-F Marko
Jaric (r)[1] 140 15.2 ppg 4.9 rpg 2.6 apg 45.7 FG% 38.8 3FG%
G Corey
Maggette 149 11.4 ppg 3.7 rpg 1.8 apg 0.65 spg 44.3 FG%
F Chris
Wilcox (R)[1]220 12.0 ppg 7.1 rpg 1.5 apg 1.47 bpg 50.4 FG%
F-C Wang
Zhi-Zhi[1] 274 5.6 ppg 2.0 rpg 0.4 apg 44.0 FG% 41.4 3FG%

[1] New acquisition
(r) Rookie (statistics from Italian League)
(R) Rookie (statistics for final college season)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 92)

AT 24 AND WITH HIS SELFLESSNESS, MILLER SETS AN EXAMPLE OF HOW TO
PLAY THE RIGHT WAY.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)