Clippers president talks future
LOS ANGELES -- No sooner had the Los Angeles Clippers finished one of their most successful seasons Sunday night with a 102-99 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the second round of the playoffs did the attention in Lob City turn to the future. Namely, how long Blake Griffin and Chris Paul will be a part of it.
Griffin is eligible to sign an extension with the organization this summer or he could become a restricted free agent after next season, while Paul is under contract only for one more year.
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The Clippers say they are confident they'll be able to retain both players for a long time.
"I feel those things are going to get done," Clippers president Andy Roeser told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "The important thing is that we have to do other things to improve the team. But I believe we'll do those things and ultimately I believe those two players (Griffin and Paul) are going to play out their careers here."
Griffin is eligible to sign a five-year extension on July 1 and the Clippers will offer it to him. When asked about his intentions, Griffin said he hadn't considered them yet.
"I haven't given it one ounce of thought," Griffin said. "That's been the furthest thing from my mind, honestly. I know that's kind of the popular thing to say, but I haven't thought about it. I'll get to that when it comes."
Paul wasn't asked directly about his future intentions, but a source close to the situation said he has given the team indications he intends to stay long term.
Still, it is believed that both players are curious to see what the organization will be able to do to bolster the roster this offseason. The team clearly needs help at the shooting guard position and consistent outside shooters who can space the floor.
"(Clippers owner Donald Sterling) has committed unlimited resources to this team," Clippers general manager Neil Olshey told ESPNLosAngeles.com late Sunday night. "We intend to exhaust all avenues in our quest to build a championship-caliber organization."
Then there is the future of Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro. The team has an option on him for next season. It must decide by June 1 whether to retain him.
"I think coach did an outstanding job," Paul said of Del Negro. "Also with Neil (Olshey) and them in our front office. Everybody knows what happened in mid-December with the trade going through, picking up Chauncey (Billups) off the waiver wire.
"Then Chauncey going down and all the injuries we had to endure. It's been a rollercoaster season for us, but I think the way they managed everything was great. Bringing in K-Mart (Kenyon Martin), bringing in Reggie Evans, they did an outstanding job. The season was crazy enough with 66 games, but they helped us get here. Now we have to build from it."
One player who won't be going anywhere, at least of his own volition, is guard Mo Williams, who told ESPNLosAngeles.com that he did not intent to opt out of his $8.5 million player option for next season.
"No," Williams said when asked if he would opt out this summer. "I can tell you that right now."
Williams had a solid season (13.2 points, 3.1 assists) despite coming off the bench, and mostly out of position as a shooting guard. Still, he's part of a glut of point guards on the Clippers roster that could be used to upgrade at other positions via trade.
"This is my first time in this position. I don't think about it when I'm playing," Williams said. "I haven't thought about it. I pay a good man 4 percent of my money, so he'll make a good decision for me."
Whatever the shape the Clippers roster takes over the summer, who returns and who doesn't, Roeser said the four-game sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs made some things abundantly clear.
"I think one of the interesting things, when you play a team like San Antonio, is that your weaknesses are on display," Roeser said. "It's going to give us a lot to think about in the offseason.
"I think we absolutely look at this and say, 'If we want to get to the next level, there's more we're going to have to do.' But we're prepared to do those things."