With Slew of Signings, "Sky's the Limit" for the Los Angeles Clippers

Ryan Loftis By Ryan Loftis, 23rd Jul 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/27enr7hy/
Posted in Wikinut>News>Sport

The Los Angeles Clippers signed a number of notable players, including returning center DeAndre Jordan and free agents Paul Pierce and Josh Smith.

Coach Doc Rivers: "I Love What We've Assembled"

The podium was crowded during the July 21 press conference at the Staples Center. Seven players for the Los Angeles Clippers sat in chairs, two in the front row - with head coach Doc Rivers seated between them - and five in the back. Two of the players had re-signed with the Clippers, four had signed as free agents, and one had been acquired via trade.

"I love what we've assembled, and now the next step for us is to turn all this talent on paper into a team, and that's what we have to do," Rivers, who also serves as the team's president of basketball operations, said. "On paper I like us against anyone - I'm sure other teams will say the same thing - but we all know from being around this that it's going to take a group that wants to play together, wants to get together, and wants to win together, and that's our goal now."

Unsurprisingly, the most questions went to DeAndre Jordan. The center, who was celebrating his 27th birthday that day, had re-signed with the Clippers only after he had reneged on a verbal commitment to sign with the Dallas Mavericks. His actions earned him criticism, and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban compared the situation to "makeup sex." What drew him back to the Clippers? "In the past two seasons I've had I've been really successful with this guy" - he patted Rivers on the shoulder - "and with this group of players and our organization, and the sky's the limit for our team."

Added Rivers, who praised Jordan's decision to return, "Well, first of all, he never left. I keep hearing that he came back. He never left. He talked about it, but he came back."

Jordan was also asked about reports he had clashed with Clippers guard Chris Paul. "I love Chris," Jordan said. "When Chris got here, he changed the culture of our team. He helped me out in so many ways on and off the floor just becoming a better player and a student of the game. I know it may look that way on the floor because we're both emotional and vocal players, but when it comes down to it we're all criticizing each other because we want what's best for the team, and I just feel like when you do butt heads on the floor, 30 seconds later it's over because we're all trying to win a basketball game. I think that we let facial expressions and outside stories dictate what we believe, but Chris is like a big brother to me and other guys on this team."

Forward Paul Pierce, a 10-time All-Star, was one of the free agents who signed with the Clippers. Pierce, who starred at Inglewood High School in Los Angeles, won a championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008 and was named Finals MVP. Clippers broadcast Ralph Lawler described Pierce, who currently ranks 16th in NBA history in scoring, as a player the Clippers had pursued for three straight summers. "I think things really happen for a reason," Pierce said. "I think this is the right time, a perfect opportunity here today, and I'm glad to say I'm a Clipper today." He predicted Los Angeles would be his last stop. "I think this is where I'm going to end it, and so I'm going to go all in, and if we can win a championship here for the Clippers, this will be everything for me."

Josh Smith, the youngest player in NBA history to block 1,000 shots in his career, was another free agent signing. The forward was an important contributor to the Houston Rockets team that overcome a 3-1 deficit and defeated the Clippers in the 2015 Western Conference Semifinals. Smith signed a one-year deal for $1.5 million. The Detroit Pistons, who waived Smith last December after a disastrous stint with the team, will pay $5.4 million annually through the 2019-20 season.

Guard Austin Rivers, Doc Rivers' son, was the other Clipper who re-signed. Forward Wes Johnson didn't have to travel far when he joined the Clippers as a free agent: He played for the Los Angeles Clippers last season. Center Cole Aldrich signed with the Clippers after spending the previous two seasons with the New York Knicks. Twenty-two-year-old forward Branden Dawson, the 56th overall pick in this year's draft, was traded to the Clippers from the New Orleans Pelicans on draft night. Dawson played four years at Michigan State University and ranks first in school history in blocks. He averaged 12.8 points and 10.3 rebounds in four games in the Orlando Summer League.

Tags

Deandre Jordan, Doc Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers

Meet the author

author avatar Ryan Loftis
I graduated from Central Michigan University with a journalism degree and have been a freelance writer for various print and online publications since then.

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