Friday, February 24, 2012
Updated: February 26, 1:46 AM ET
Chris Paul glad he's a Clipper
By Shelley Smith
ORLANDO, Fla. -- When Chris Paul was traded to the Clippers in December, he agreed to exercise his player option for 2012-13 and stay with the team next year. He told ESPN Radio Friday that he's glad that he did.
"I'm on West Coast time," he said at a taping of "Meet the All-Stars," which will air on ESPN Radio at 6 p.m. ET Saturday. "I wake up every day and the sun's out and it's beautiful, and basketball's not going too bad at all, either."
Paul almost ended up in Los Angeles with the other Staples Center team. A December trade that would have sent him to the Lakers was vetoed by the league. Paul had been thinking about what it would be like to play with Kobe Bryant for quite some time since they had been All-Stars and Olympians together.
"Kobe's a killer; we both have that in common," Paul said. "We both have that competitive edge and we want to play hard."
Paul said that the duo wouldn't lose, but without the trade, the Lakers find themselves at 20-14 and second to the Clippers in the Pacific Division.
At 20-11, the Clippers are third in the Western Conference behind Oklahoma City (27-7) and San Antonio (24-10). Paul, who will play in his fifth All-Star Game Sunday, said he believes the organization, and general manager Neil Olshey, are committed to building the franchise beyond just this season and that he has complete confidence in his teammates.
"(Coach) Vinny (Del Negro) is always telling me be aggressive, be aggressive, go score, go score. I realize I have the ball so much that I can get a shot any time that I want to, but it's not an individual game. I need to make sure my teammates know I'll find them," Paul said. "Even in the fourth quarter may be a situation where a defender comes over, I have to know that my teammates know I'm a willing passer."
Paul, who is averaging 19.2 points and 8.6 assists per game this season, said he also has worked hard to improve defensively.
"That's what I think about all day, every day is, 'How are we gonna stop this team?' " he said. "It's frustrating (to them) when a team can't score. They get mad. Everyone talks about offense, but I pride myself on defense."
Shelley Smith is a reporter for ESPN. Information from ESPN.com's Zach McCann was used in this report.