SIX PLAYERS HIGHLIGHT WEDNESDAY’S MASSIVE NEWS CONFERENCE
PLAYA VISTA – It was unconventional and ambitious.
The Clippers announced what newcomer Jared Dudley called the “biggest re-signing in Clippers history,” along with five other transactions, in an all-encompassing news conference Wednesday afternoon.
Superstar point guard Chris Paul agreed to return, officially coming to terms with the Clippers a night earlier, along with Matt Barnes and Ryan Hollins. The mainstays were joined by newcomers Darren Collison, who signed as a free agent after a year with the Dallas Mavericks, and Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick, who were both acquired in a three-team trade that was made official just minutes prior to the group taking the stage at the Clippers’ training facility.
“I thought it was really important that we brought back some of the key guys, guys that were here last year,” Clippers Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Doc Rivers said. “Bringing Ryan back and Matt and Chris I thought was huge for us and we needed to do that. Obviously, we felt like we needed more and we did that. We added shooting. We added toughness. We added character.”
The additions, or re-additions, began with Paul, who returns to a team that won 56 games a year ago and has Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Crawford and rookie first-round pick Reggie Bullock already locked in. He signed his contract around 9:01 PDT on Tuesday, at the earliest possible moment after the league’s annual moratorium was lifted. He said choosing to stay in Los Angeles after two years with the Clippers was simple.
“I talked about it with my family and this seemed to be an outstanding situation,” Paul said, “not only for me, but this decision affects my wife, my kids, my brother, my parents, and everything. From day one, the Clippers have been outstanding in everything, in every aspect. It was an easy decision for me.”
Paul announced his intention to re-sign nine days earlier at the onset of the NBA’s free agency period. Shortly thereafter, the team moved to acquire Redick in a sign-and-trade with the Milwaukee Bucks. The deal also included Dudley, who was sent from the Phoenix Suns to the Clippers in exchange for Caron Butler and Eric Bledsoe. Hollins, Barnes and Collison verbally agreed next.
According to Clippers Vice President of Basketball Operations Gary Sacks, having foundational players in place makes things smoother when it comes to adding pieces to the puzzle. “When we have guys like Chris and Blake and [Jordan] already in the fold guys want to play here,” he said.
That explains why the fleet-footed Collison, entering his fifth NBA season, was eager to join the group despite having what he termed “more lucrative” offers from other places.
“I always believe you play this game to win,” Collison said. “You have to decide. Do you want to go elsewhere and lose and not be on a good team? Or do you want to be on a contending team and not make that much money? And that’s [the latter] the decision that I made. At the end of the day, when you’re winning and you’re playing the game you love that’s where true happiness comes.”
“Who would have thought, five or six years ago, that a Boston Celtics head coach would want to come to the L.A. Clippers,” the seven-year veteran said. “It shows how far this franchise has come. The fact that Chris didn’t really entertain anything speaks volumes as well. For me, once those two things happened, it was kind of a no-brainer for me. This is where I wanted to be.”
Despite losing Bledsoe and Butler, who made up nearly 20 percent of the Clippers’ offensive production last season, Collison, Dudley and Redick seemingly make up for it and then some. They add depth to a team that was one of the deepest in the league a year ago, including necessary 3-point shooting and versatility defensively.
For Barnes, who scored a career-high 10.3 points per game in his first season with the Clippers since debuting with the team in 2002, the group should pick up where they left off.
“It’s a unique opportunity where we have 12 or 13 guys who can play basketball,” Barnes said. “So, you know coming here you’re going to have to make sacrifices whether that’s financially, minutes-wise, but the ultimate goal is to win a championship."
Hollins knows all-too-well about having to sacrifice minutes.
“It’s surreal,” Hollins said. “It’s a different excitement than last year because we didn’t know how it would come together but we were so excited to play with each other. With the new additions, I think we all understand it’s about results. We kind of have unfinished business on the table and it’s about results.”
Paul knew that, too. He said the Clippers presented the best opportunity to win. And while the unfinished business does not tipoff for another three months, half of the team was already assembled in one place, itching for it all to start.