Doc Rivers: Clippers' future is bright
PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers believes his team can win a championship this season and isn't shying away from those lofty expectations as the Clippers prepare to open training camp Tuesday.
"I believe we can [win a championship], yes, but we have a lot of work to do first," Rivers said. "I think it's open, right? I don't think anyone has claimed it."
Rivers spoke at the team's facility during media day before heading down to San Diego, where the Clippers will hold the first five days of their camp.
"I look at our group and our team, and I think we have a chance to do something," Rivers said. "That excites you. When you look at the players that are on the paper, and if we can get them on the floor performing together, I think we can be a special team."
Rivers came to the Clippers this past June when the Boston Celtics agreed to a deal to let Rivers out of his contract for the Clippers' first-round pick in 2015. The Clippers then signed Rivers to a three-year, $21 million contract to be not only their coach but also their senior vice president of basketball operations.
"I would rather be with a group that has high expectations than a group that doesn't," Rivers said. "Are we ready to embrace that? I don't know yet. That's what we're going to go on this journey and find out."
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No one on the Clippers' current roster has won a championship yet, but Rivers doesn't believe that will be an issue, considering the main players on his 2008 championship team in Boston hadn't won a title before, either.
"I can only talk so much about that," Rivers said. "This is a new group and a new team, and we have to find our way ourselves. We have to find our own path, and that's what we're going to do."
Clippers players didn't shy away from the championship expectations heading into training camp, either.
"We embrace it," Clippers forward Blake Griffin said. "We have higher expectations for ourselves than anybody else. We don't have any championships. That's the goal. That's the bottom line. We haven't really accomplished anything yet. Our whole goal is to accomplish that. We put those expectations on ourselves as well. That's the way it should be. We don't think we've arrived until we win a championship."
Clippers guard Chris Paul said he is excited to play for Rivers and that he already has experienced some of the coach's tough love in conversations.
"In the first meeting I had with Doc, he pretty much told me I wasn't anything," Paul said. "He told me I hadn't done anything in this league, and he was right. You don't always want somebody who's going to tell you everything you want to hear."