NBA: L.A. is upbeat on media day despite serious injuries for Livingston and Brand. By Joe Stevens STAFF WRITER Media day in the NBA often is the time for sheer optimism in a verbal release about the power of positive thinking. Considering the Clippers likely will be without Elton Brand and Shaun Livingston until at least February, Monday at Staples Center offered the opportunity for a shift from idealism to realism. But no, there was no shift. Despite the injuries to Brand and Livingston, the Clippers remained upbeat about the coming season and cited various reasons why – from the team’s depth to the offseason additions of Brevin Knight, Ruben Patterson and rookie Al Thornton. “You got to stay positive,” said Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor, who has been in his current post for 21 years. “If you’re a player, you have to look at this way: OK, fine, the public perception is that you guys aren’t going to be very good. OK, now there’s something to prove. OK, let’s go out there and prove them wrong.” Pretty much all of the key Clippers had a similar view, but the fact remains that the team will be without Brand because of a torn Achilles’ tendon. Brand has averaged 20.3 points and 10.6 rebounds over his eight-year NBA career, and what he brings to the squad seems impossible to replace. The plan is for the returning Clippers – Corey Maggette, Cuttino Mobley, Sam Cassell and Chris Kaman, in particular – to pick up in his absence. Tim Thomas is expected to start at power forward in Brand’s place. “It’s going to be very interesting to see what we can do,” Maggette said. “But I think our team is going to be very capable of making some noise.” Maggette, who can opt out of his contract after this season and become a free agent, was especially upbeat about the upcoming season and even said that staying positive was one of his goals for the year. When the suggestion was made that he would have to score more this season, he said, “It’s not only going to be me. Collectively, we’re all going to have to score more.” Maggette added, “It’s going to be tough for us. You know you have guys who can pick up the scoring, but not with (Brand’s) tenacity for rebounding and tip-ins. That’s going to be our biggest crutch, on the rebounding side, trying to pick up 10-plus rebounds a game and three or four blocks.” Livingston’s loss at point guard should not be as dramatic. The Clippers expect Sam Cassell to start at point guard with Knight as the backup. They also expect to sign point guard Dan Dickau on Wednesday, after he is waived by the New York Knicks. After the Clippers sign Dickau, they will have 15 players with fully guaranteed contracts, meaning that the team already knows its opening-day roster. It also means that Guillermo Diaz, a second-round pick from last year who has a partially guaranteed contract, will not be on the roster unless one of those 15 is released. With the roster set, Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said the point of training camp will be to develop conditioning and chemistry. With Brand out, the Clippers will need some new offensive schemes and try to become more of a fast-break team. “My hopes are basically to try to play a smaller lineup, extend the defense and create more of an open-court atmosphere,” Dunleavy said. “I think we have some guys on our team that can play well that way.” As far as the coach’s foray into the power of positive thinking, he said, “I feel good about the guys we brought in. … So that has me optimistic. And then I think that group can keep us in the hunt. And if they keep us in the hunt and we get our guys back, it’s going to be great.” [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!