Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Clippers role players are perfect fits
By Arash Markazi
PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- A smile crept over Chris Paul’s face as he looked to his left and saw his newest teammate, J.J. Redick.
Paul and Redick have had their fair share of battles, in college when Paul was at Wake Forrest and Redick was at Duke, and during the course of their NBA careers, and now they will be starting in the same backcourt with the Clippers.
Paul never thought he’d see the day when they both were on the same team and starting in the backcourt but was excited to finally be paired up with his old nemesis.
“I’m really excited to play with him,” Paul said. “It’s crazy how life works and you grow as a person. In college? Me and J.J.? Oh no, you would have never seen us sitting next to each other. When I saw that J.J. signed here I was overjoyed. I told my wife that I’m so happy we’re on the same team and I don’t have to run and around and chase him because he hit us up for 39 one time at Cameron Indoor. I’m just overly excited and I almost feel like rookie again because we could start and build something.”
When Doc Rivers joined the Clippers as the team’s head coach and senior vice president of basketball operations, he was looking for guys to fit his system. He was looking for outside shooters who were good system defenders and void of any ego. He targeted Redick and Jared Dudley and ended up getting both in a three-team deal for Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler.
“They’re great fits,” Rivers said. “They add shooting number one. They get who they are, all of them. They’re over themselves, which is so important in our league when you have guys who understand who they are and they usually stay in their lane. They’re over themselves and they have really gotten past that stage in their careers. They’re just trying to win and doing whatever it takes. That’s important for teams. When you can add guys like that to a talented group, it’s really important.”
Rivers met with Reddick and immediately sold him on what the Clippers were building and how he could fit in. He was immediately sold and Tuesday night signed a four-year, $27 million contract.
“It was just a perfect fit,” Redick said. “Doc’s thing is all about putting yourself below the team, putting the team first and being about winning and those are the things that I’m about. It’s team first and building towards a championship.”
Redick said he also wanted to play alongside Paul and see what they could do together on the court after playing against each other since college.
“He’s one of the few points guards in the league where you’d say right away I want to play with that guy,” Redick said. “Him being here was a huge part and Doc first and foremost was a big part and I’m excited to be here. When I look at this team and see what Jared and I can both do, we can complement other people and play well with this group.
While Redick figures to replace Chauncey Billups and Willie Green as the Clippers’ starting shooting guard, Dudley is being penciled in as the starting small forward, replacing Butler. He, like Redick, believes he will be a perfect fit to this team and the starting lineup.
“It’s a team that’s a high-tempo team and they do a lot of pick-and-rolls for Chris,” Dudley said. “You have to wing players because with Chris and Blake [Griffin] a lot of people like to help on those pick-and-rolls because they’re afraid to get dunked on. It’s kind of like Amare [Stoudemire] in Phoenix. I feel like I can open up the lane a little more. I feel like when you have shooters like myself and J.J., it will be a lot of one-on-ones with Chris and Blake down low. For me, it’s a perfect marriage.”
The Clippers were looking for a back-up point guard after trading away Bledsoe and could not have found a better one than Darren Collison, who signed a two-year, $3,8 million contract with the team. Collison, who backed up Paul in New Orleans four years ago, started 47 games for the Dallas Mavericks last season and has started 219 games during his four-year career.
“The biggest reason I’m here is to try to win a championships,” Collison said. “It was either here or elsewhere but I was going to go to a team that was contending and I think this is the best choice.”
Barnes and Hollins, who prepped at UCLA like Collison, knew they wanted to stay in Los Angeles after last season ended. It was something Barnes and Paul even talked about on the flight home from Memphis after the Clippers were eliminated from the playoffs.
“Me and Matt talked as soon as the season was over,” Paul said. “Me and Matt knew we wanted to play on the same team. Like I said last year, I hated playing against Matt but I love having him. You need him on your team. He’s just hard-nosed and doesn’t care about anything but winning.”
Barnes ended up signing a three-year, $11 million contract after enjoying a career season and is now hoping to finish his NBA career where he started it. He said his goal going into this offseason was to stay with Paul either in Los Angeles or elsewhere. His family grew extremely close with Paul’s during the season and Barnes’ twins and Paul’s son were a constant presense in the Clippers locker room post game.
“Chris and I have been talking before the season even ended about either staying here or going somewhere else but staying together,” Barnes said. “We’re definitely both glad that it’s here. We’re very comfortable here. I’m glad we’re both here.”
Hollins signed a one year deal for just over $1.2 million and is the only player on the roster who has played for Rivers, having played for the Celtics during the 2011-12 season and playing in 17 playoff games for the Celtics during their run to the Eastern Conference finals.
“If you asked me before free agency my ideal place to be and my ideal coach I would have said Los Angeles and Doc Rivers,” Hollins said. “It’s going to be an amazing opportunity. I can’t wait to get back and get to work.”
Paul was all smiles as he raised his jersey after the press conference along with all his new and old teammates.
“This press conference is special,” Paul said. “It was me along with five other guys. There's no one person that's more important than the team and I absolutely mean that. That picture there of all of us up there is one I'll probably hang up in my house.”