The Clippers, who have the seventh pick of the upcoming NBA draft, are looking for one, and after seeing Arizona guard Jerryd Bayless over the weekend they held their first mass workout on Tuesday.
The big collegiate names who attended were guards Russell Westbrook of UCLA, Chase Budinger of Arizona and forward Anthony Randolph of Louisiana State. Prospects on hand expected to go later in the draft were Malik Hairston, J. Gordon and Justin Hawkins.
Coach Mike Dunleavy said that the Clippers would entertain offers to move up in the draft and that the Miami Heat may shop the second overall selection.
If the Clippers stand pat, they figure to choose among D.J. Augustin, who is short but considered the top pure point guard in the draft, Indiana's Eric Gordon and Westbrook. Bayless is expected to be taken by the time the Clippers pick, as is USC guard O.J. Mayo.
The pick is also heavily contingent on the status of injured point guard Shaun Livingston, who is still recovering from a serious knee injury.
Livingston has not been cleared to participate in contact drills, but the team has yet to decide on whether they would give him a qualifying offer of $5.8 million.
The deadline to give Livingston the offer is the end of the month. Otherwise, he will become an unrestricted free agent.
"They obviously have a choice ahead to make," said Henry Thomas, Livingston's agent.
"The ball is in their court."
The Clippers may be forced to make a decision on Livingston without seeing him play with contact. If that happens, they will probably bypass giving him the qualifying offer and attempt to sign him to a cheaper deal.
"That's not a decision we have to make for a couple of weeks, but it depends on what we hear from the medical staff and where he's at when the decision has to be made," Dunleavy said.
Westbrook is considered a combo guard, but said this summer he would focus on playing point guard. He said he is on the verge of signing with agent Thaddeus Foucher of SFX to represent him, officially forgoing his remaining eligibility at UCLA.
"It doesn't matter playing any position, but coming up to the next level I'm going to play [point], so I'll be prepared for that," Westbrook said.
The Clippers are expected to bring in six more players Wednesday, then head to Oakland for a prospects session they'll share this weekend with the Phoenix Suns.
"Westbrook played really well throughout the season and had a good workout," Dunleavy said Tuesday.
"Anthony Randolph is a guy that has a chance to be a special player based on his length and skill level."
"Budinger has good size for a two-guard position and shoots the ball really well and is able to make some plays as well."
Forward Corey Maggette will officially opt out of his contract at the end of the month and become an unrestricted free agent. Elton Brand can do the same, but recently said he plans to remain a Clipper.
Dunleavy said he believes that both will be playing for the Clippers next season.
"The reality is that there's no money out there," Dunleavy said of the market value for free agents. Later, he added,
"People will come to reality and probably make a deal. That's how I see it."
Forward Paul Davis, who sustained a torn knee ligament midway through last season, reported that he is 80-85% healthy.
"It's just that last 10-15% that's hard to get to," Davis said.
Davis said he is expected to receive a qualifying offer from the team and be signed for next season
"hopefully within the next couple of weeks."