TALKING CLIPS WITH MARC J. SPEARS, YAHOO! SPORTS
The final guest in Clippers.com’s “Talking Clips” feature is Yahoo! Sports NBA writer Marc J. Spears, who has also covered the league for the Denver Post and Boston Globe. He spoke with Clippers.com’s Eric Patten at Summer League in Las Vegas. Spears covered new Clippers head coach Doc Rivers during his time in Boston and provided insight into what makes Rivers one of the league’s premier coaches as well as a number of other topics.
Here is a transcript of the conversation:
Eric Patten, Clippers.com: From your perspective, what have the moves the Clippers made, maybe beginning with the re-signing of Chris [Paul], signaled about the franchise?
Marc J. Spears, Yahoo! Sports: Obviously, everything changed when Chris came. I never once really got the inkling that he was going anywhere, so once that, kind of on the under, got around that he was staying. That opens up the door for Doc Rivers. It opens up the door for J.J. Redick. It opens up a door for Jared [Dudley] and for Matt [Barnes] to sign. It’s definitely a different day in Clipper Land. It’s all because of Chris Paul. I just think it was smart to get him. He’s a franchise changer and getting him will finally set the boat straight, no pun-intended. He’s beloved as a player. He’s respected as arguably the best point guard in the league. That’s a combination where it’s like, ‘Why wouldn’t you want to play with him?’ I remember that press conference when they got Chris. It just seemed like it instantly changed things. I think him being in L.A., him seeing what [the Clippers] could potentially be, that made him not really consider going anywhere.
EP: Two years ago, I think because of the lockout and because of the trade with New Orleans, the Clippers had to piece the roster together hurriedly. Even last year, the roster may not have been exactly how they wanted it, in terms of the pieces fitting. Do you think getting Redick and Dudley means they’re getting closer to that roster being the way they want it to look?
MS: Roster-wise, say if everybody in the league is healthy, I think they have the best roster in the West. They have good depth, good chemistry. I think they’re going to set a record for 3-point shots. I’m curious to see how all that breaks down and how many assists Chris ends up getting. One thing that definitely needs to get stronger is post play. We’ll see who else they sign, but Blake [Griffin] has to be more of a monster in the post. DeAndre [Jordan], to me, has shown flashes, but needs to be more of a monster in the post. I covered Doc in Boston and I’m sure Doc will figure out an offense that’s going to get the best of them. To me, that’s the only question I have about this team. Even their backup point guard (Darren Collison) could start for a lot of teams. Post play is the only question mark. That’s not to say that Blake can’t play or DeAndre can’t play, but it has to be more consistent. It has to be more than dunking the ball. They have to be scoring presences in the post.
EP: What about Doc’s personality make guys want to play for him and really buy into what he’s doing?
MS: He’s like an uncle to these guys. He’s got a great, great personality. Anybody that can coach [Rajon] Rondo, [Kevin] Garnett, [Paul] Pierce and Ray [Allen]. People think you can just add these players and it’s easy. But there’s so much off the court that you’ve got to do and so many personalities that you have to deal with. When I covered the team, keep in mind, they also had Kendrick Perkins, strong personality, Tony Allen, very strong personality, Sam Cassell, P.J. Brown. You didn’t have a roster of meekness. You had a roster of strong personalities. You almost have to be kind of a psychologist as much as being a head coach. A lot of guys probably couldn’t handle coaching a team like that. Talent-wise, yeah, but getting those three guys who were future Hall of Famers and the man, in their own right, in their respective franchise [before] to take back their game for the betterment of the team is amazing that he was able to do that.
And that’s going to I think his challenge with this team, although they did some of that last year. Chris is going to have to sacrifice because Collison needs minutes to be happy. And it will be for Chris’ betterment long-term because it will keep him healthier and not break him down. J.J. Redick has people like Jamal [Crawford] who can spell him. It’s going to take some massaging. There are going to be nights when some guys are going to be frustrated and think they’ve got the hot hand and they’re not going to be in. I think that’s where Doc’s presence is really going to resonate with this team. What are you going to say to Doc? Who on that roster, Chris Paul included, can say something to Doc Rivers with the guys he’s already coached?