"You watch him, and you wonder why he didn't make it before," Rivers says. "But you know what? I don't care why. He's played too well. I don't have time to dwell on what happened in the past."
Rivers understands that his team's fortunes depend on young players like Parker and the speedy Maggette. "Every once in a while Corey will show us flashes of the phenom," said Rivers. "But every once in a while he's the 19-year-old kid who doesn't have it figured out yet."
The challenge for both Rivers and Gabriel is to prevent Maggette from getting discouraged with himself or his team during what promises to be a long season. "I guess it really didn't start to hit home what we'd done until the guys got on the floor and we realized how much we'd stripped away the scoring," Gabriel says. "But we've got a certain level of athleticism and energy and work ethic.
"We're realistic. We are who we are. The key is to make enough steps to keep our chins up so we can follow through on the long-term plan."
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