PLAYA VISTA — Now that the start of the regular season can be measured in days rather than weeks, the question had to be asked and answered Wednesday. What is a realistic goal for the Clippers for the upcoming season after an offseason with so many changes?
“Make the playoffs,” Blake Griffin said. “I don’t really see any other goal. Obviously, it’s to win a championship. Every team starts out at the beginning of the year saying, ‘We want to win a championship,’ but you’ve got to have a goal of getting to the playoffs first.”
Griffin disagreed with a reporter’s suggestion that 2017-18 would be a transitional season for the Clippers, what with nine new players on the roster and past standouts such as Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick now playing elsewhere.
“I wouldn’t really call it a transitional season,” Griffin said. “We have new players. To me, transitional makes it seem like it’s a rebuilding year or something like that. I guess it would be rebuilding if we had done something. We haven’t really done anything over the past five, six years.
“It’s different. It’s a different team. It’s a different look. I don’t know about transitional.”
The Clippers have two home exhibition games remaining, Thursday against the Sacramento Kings and Friday against the Lakers. Then the new-look Clippers begin the regular season Oct. 19 against the Lakers in a “road” game at Staples Center.
A rash of injuries recently has made it difficult to imagine what sort of team the Clippers could become this season. Their rotation will be disjointed for the third consecutive exhibition. Three starters and two key backups aren’t expected to play because of injuries against the Kings.
Measuring the Clippers’ progress during the preseason has been difficult.
“It’s kind of tough to tell because of the injuries,” Griffin said. “We’ve had a lot of guys sitting out. That always throws off your rhythm a little bit. I like our understanding of our offense. Our understanding of our defense is there. It’s just a matter of getting everybody on the same page.
“You have to do that with reps, and we haven’t really been able to get the reps we’ve wanted the last four, five days or whatever it’s been since we’ve been back (after holding training camp in Hawaii). This next week of practice and games will be important for us.”
Forward Danilo Gallinari was listed as doubtful to play against the Kings because of a sprained left foot, one of three Clippers starters expected to be sidelined Thursday. Wesley Johnson is expected to start in place of Gallinari for the second consecutive game.
Guards Patrick Beverley (sore right knee) and Austin Rivers (strained right glute) have been ruled out of Thursday’s game, and they might not play Friday, either. Milos Teodosic and Lou Williams are expected to start in their places against the Kings and Lakers.
In addition, reserve forward Sam Dekker (strained oblique) and backup guard/forward Sindarius Thornwell (sprained right shoulder) won’t play against the Kings, and might not be sound enough to play Friday against the Lakers, either.
“Clearly, we’d love to have the key guys because there are so many news guys,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “In a perfect world, they’re here. But they’re not and there’s nothing I can do about that. My job right now is to prepare the other guys in case they’re not here (Oct. 19).”
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