CLIPPERS OFFICIALLY WELCOME BACK CHAUNCEY BILLUPS
The Los Angeles Clippers officially welcomed veteran guard Chauncey Billups back to the team on Monday, July 16 before a media throng at the Clippers Training Center in Playa Vista. Billups re-signed with the Clippers on Friday, July 13 under much different circumstances then when he originally joined the team prior to last season after being claimed off of waivers.
"We are going to do it right this time," Billups said with a smile. "It is me picking the Clippers this time, which is a little different then it was last time. I am happy to be back."
As a free agent, the former NBA Finals MVP had several teams to choose from as he looks to continue his illustrious career after a torn left Achilles tendon ended his first season with the Clippers after only 20 games. But it was the Clippers who provided "Mr. Big Shot" with everything he was looking for – and more.
"This was Plan A. I said all along that I wanted to be back here. I see something special with what we have and I want to milk it," Billups said. "I went through the process, and I had certain criteria. I just want to win. I want to win a championship and obviously I don't have another 10 years to play in the league, so I want to win now. That is what I am shooting for, and I want to opportunity to do it and I think I can do it here. That is why I made this choice."
After joining the Clippers last season, the five-time NBA All-Star quickly became a key member of the team, starring in the backcourt along with Chris Paul and providing a steadying influence as he averaged 15.0 points, 4.0 assists and 2.5 rebounds as the Clippers went on to the best season in franchise history. The Clippers were 13-7 with Billups in the lineup, and appeared to be shaping up as a contender for the Western Conference Championship with him playing alongside Paul, Caron Butler and Blake Griffin.
It was those winning ways that allowed Billups to embrace the Clippers and quickly helped change his perception about joining an organization that he was admittedly hesitant to initially play for.
"For me, just being here and being able to meet the people here and see how they do business and see how they treat the players, it is different than what I thought," Billups said. "It is more along the lines of what I like, of what I look for. I learned to really appreciate the situation throughout the season. I think you look at the commitment that Mr. Sterling has made to trying to win and that is admirable."
Billups is aiming to return to the court by October, and dismissed reports that he would not be back until January while also calling out members of the media who speculated that his sparkling career had come to an end in Orlando when he injured the Achilles.
"I plan on playing in all 82 games," Billups said. "I am grinding and working really hard right now. I know everyone thought when I went down it was over with. But those were the people that don't really know me and how hard I work and how determined I am. So to be able to come back is going to be a big deal, but I am not really surprised at all because I know the work I am putting in and the mentality that I have. I will probably surprise a lot of people, but not myself."
Billups is also not surprised at the off-season upgrades the Clippers made to their roster, adding veteran and former Sixth Man of the Year Winners Lamar Odom and Jamal Crawford.
"In Lamar and Jamal, you have two guys who know and more importantly embrace their role and don't worry about the nights they don't play 30 minutes. They go out and try to take advantage of every minute they have. Lamar is a guy who is a winner and right now has a lot to prove, he is very motivated. Jamal is a guy who wants to win and a guy who has been a very good player for a long time."
The thought of re-joining Paul and Griffin and playing with Odom and Crawford was something that Billups did not want to pass up.
"Everyone has been great here," Billups said. "They do it the right way and that is something that I want to be a part of. Not only is everyone trying to win, but they are doing it the right way."
Even though it is only July, Billups was clear what is goals are going to be for the 2012-13 Clippers.
"I am talking about winning the West," Billups said. "That is the way I think. That is just the way I am, and I am really looking forward to this season. I really am."