Chris Paul excited for Clippers' future
At his introductory news conference on the floor of the Clippers practice facility, Paul cited the Clippers' history as a reason why he wanted to be traded to a franchise that has only advanced to the playoffs four times in the past 35 years.
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"I'm excited to be here in L.A. with this unbelievable franchise with so much history behind it," Paul said. "Every one knows Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan signed his deal and my big brother, Chauncey Billups, who I'm excited to be playing alongside of. This is going to be an unbelievable experience."
In terms of history, Paul only went back to two players who were drafted within the past three years and a player the Clippers claimed off waivers three days ago, but that's just fine. When it comes to making history, the Clippers will be a clean canvas for Paul.
Although Paul has two years left on his current contract, he and Clippers general manager Neil Olshey mentioned that Paul had made a long-term commitment to the team. After the news conference, Clippers officials said no agreement past the current two-year commitment has been made yet.
"Why did I make a long-term commitment? Because I believe in this organization," Paul said. "I believe in the players here and I want to win and I want to win now. I'm excited about what the future holds. I can't wait. I'm tired of doing everything else, I want to play."
Added Olshey: "He's not here to jump on a lily pad for two seasons. He's coming here to be a part of of the future of the franchise. He wanted to know there were pieces in place that would be with him long-term and that was a part of this deal. ... It gave me the confidence to know that if we get this guy here and continue to do the right things, they're all going to be here for the future and long-term."
Paul has told the Clippers he'll exercise his player option to stay with the team for next season.
Griffin's first words about Paul's arrival -- "Lob city!" he said gleefully to fellow high-flying teammate Jordan on Wednesday -- have already become a Twitter trending topic and a T-shirt in Los Angeles.
On Wednesday, the Clippers acquired guard Paul in a trade with the league-owned New Orleans Hornets. The Clippers sent sent guard Eric Gordon, center Chris Kaman, forward Al-Farouq Aminu and Minnesota's unprotected 2012 first-round pick to the Hornets for Paul and two future second-round picks.
Last week, Paul was nearly dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers in a deal the NBA vetoed, but said Thursday he was more interested in building a new legacy with the Clippers and helping them win their first championship.
"I'm crazy competitive," he said. "I think that's what makes me the player that I am. I just have to compete, so knowing that they never won a championship here I wanted to be a part of something like that. ... I want to see those Clippers T-shirts around town. I want to see everybody filing into Staples Center to see us play and at the end of the day I want to win here."
Histories and legacies aren't rewritten overnight, but after acquiring Paul, the Clippers think they may have done just that.
"In one move it accomplishes everything (Clippers coach) Vinny (Del Negro) and I have been blathering on about for the last two years, which is to change the culture," Olshey said. "That's what we did today. We changed to a culture of winning, of character, of guys that compete, of an expectation of success. Chris chose to be here. I want guys that want to be here. That's what inspired me to drive this home. Chris wanted to be here."
Olshey credited owner Donald Sterling and Paul's agent, Leon Rose, for pushing through a trade that stalled at numerous points thanks to the Hornets' ownership by the NBA.
"His commitment to wanting to be here is what inspired me to not give up," Olshey said of Paul. "When it got to the point where both our goals met late (Wednesday) afternoon, we just got in a room and got on with Mr. Sterling and said, 'If we're going to take this quantum leap as a franchise, it's going to have to be with a superstar, and that's Chris.'"
Arash Markazi is a columnist and reporter for ESPNLosAngeles.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.