Clippers introduce fleet of players

Updated: July 11, 2013, 3:26 PM ET
By Arash Markazi | ESPNLosAngeles.com

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- Chris Paul could have had his own news conference. He could have had his own day in the sun in front of the cameras and media where he explained why he chose to stay with the Los Angeles Clippers.

He didn't want that.

Paul wanted his first news conference after signing a 5-year, $107 million extension with the Clippers to demonstrate why he stayed with the team.

Paul I remember being at home and I asked my wife, 'You think we're going to stay?' ... I talked to my brother and everyone else and I felt this gave me the best opportunity to win.

-- Chris Paul

So instead of a normal news conference, the Clippers positioned nine chairs on a two-tiered stage, showcasing the players who had re-signed with the Clippers (Paul, Matt Barnes and Ryan Hollins), the new players who had been acquired (Jared Dudley, J.J. Redick and Darren Collison) and the front office (Doc Rivers, Gary Sacks and Andy Roeser).

"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."

The headliner of the event was, of course, Paul, who tweeted his commitment to staying with the Clippers on the first day of free agency on July 1 and signed his contract shortly after 9:01 p.m. Tuesday in Los Angeles to make it official.

In the end, Paul said the decision to stay with the Clippers wasn't as hard as he thought it would be when he sat down with his family.

"I don't remember the actual day but I remember being at home and I asked my wife, 'You think we're going to stay?' " Paul said. "She said, 'Yep, if you think it's the right decision.' I talked to my brother and everyone else and I felt this gave me the best opportunity to win."

[+] EnlargeDoc Rivers. Matt Barnes, Darren Collison, Jared Dudley, Ryan Hollins, Chris Paul, J.J. Redick
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports"This press conference is special," Clippers point guard Chris Paul said. "It was me along with five other guys. ... That picture there of all of us up there is one I'll probably hang up in my house."

Paul's commitment to the Clippers from the start of the free-agency period allowed Rivers to go out and assemble the team he wanted.

"It was important; that helped us," Rivers said. "I thought it was big for us. It told everyone that he really wants to be here and didn't want to go on a parade route to these other cities."

With Paul back, Rivers and the Clippers first traded Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler to the Phoenix Suns in a three-team trade that brought Dudley and Redick to the Clippers. They then signed Collison to replace Bledsoe as Paul's backup, which he did during his rookie season in New Orleans.

"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 said he will look for those same qualities as he looks to fill out the roster in the coming days with one or two more veteran players.

"I'm really big on character and really big on fit," Rivers said. "I'll turn down a more talented player for a better fit for this team. I think we've done a good job of that."

One guy who will be looking to fit is guard Reggie Bullock, taken with the 25th overall pick in the first round of the NBA draft, who signed with the Clippers on Thursday.

He averaged 13.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.3 steals in 35 games at North Carolina last season. He was the team's third-leading scorer. Bullock hit 88 3-pointers, third-most in a single season in school history.

Paul could have talked to other teams when he became a free agent but said that wasn't necessary after deciding to stay with the Clippers before free agency began on July 1. He had his representatives notify teams he had decided to stay with the Clippers so they wouldn't even bother calling him.

"I personally didn't feel like that would be fair," Paul said. "I'm pretty aware of what could have happened and where I could go. I'm pretty knowledgeable about the situations. There was no need to put any of that added stress on anybody, especially my family. My wife and my parents and my kids, we discussed it and once I knew, I felt I should notify the other teams so they could move forward and worry about who they were going to sign for the upcoming season."

Paul said he did reach out to Dwight Howard and talked about the possibility of playing together but realized that was going to be a longshot with the Clippers or elsewhere.

"We had a conversation," Paul said. "Me and Dwight had a conversation. We're actually good friends and our parents are extremely close. Dwight made the decision that was best for him and his family and I did the same. I wish him the best. He's an unbelievable guy and has a big heart and I'm happy to see him get back healthy."

There also had been speculation Paul was the driving force behind every move the Clippers were making this offseason -- from the firing of Vinny Del Negro, to the hiring of Rivers, to the trades the team has made this offseason. Paul said that wasn't the case and wasn't even notified before some moves were made.

"It comes along with it and I knew that going into free agency," Paul said. "Anytime something happened, everybody was going to say what is Chris doing. I was prepared for that but anybody who knows me knows that's not true. Half the time I was playing with my kids. When J.J. and Jared got traded here I was shooting a commercial. I found out about that while I was shooting a commercial."

The Clippers know all the moves they made this offseason doesn't guarantee a championship, but that's certainly the goal now with the team they've put together.

"We're not putting this together just to go out there," Rivers said. "We want to be the winner. We don't just want to do a lot of winning. They've done that."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Arash Markazi

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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