Chris Paul set for first practice with Clippers
LOS ANGELES (AP)
Life has been kind to Chris Paul in his first few days living under the sunny southern California sky. It will get a whole lot better once he's able to take the court with his teammates for the first time.
Paul was at the team's Playa Vista training facility Saturday afternoon and was expected to take part in his first practice later in the evening.
It's been a frantic few days for the All-Star point guard since arriving in Los Angeles following a trade from the New Orleans Hornets, as he attempts to get settled in his new surroundings and find a dwelling to call home for at least the next two years.
''The first morning I woke up here was like a shock,'' Paul said. ''I've played here during the playoffs and during the season and I'm usually just visiting. So it's nice to wake up every morning and see all this good weather and come to this nice facility.''
Paul's arrival was the headliner in a handful of roster moves made by the Clippers this week, rejuvenating a fan base that has suffered through just one winning season in the past 19 years. Point guard Chauncey Billups and forward Caron Butler, two players with NBA championship pedigrees, were also brought into the fold.
Billups, the MVP of the 2004 NBA finals with the Detroit Pistons, participated in his first practice Saturday, a day after being introduced by his new team. He was acquired after being waived by the New York Knicks under the NBA's new amnesty provision and later claimed by the Clippers.
Despite admitting that he considered retirement, Billups is pleased to be joining a team that suddenly appears to have stolen the spotlight in Los Angeles, at least momentarily, from the cross-town Lakers.
Billups, playing for his fourth team in five seasons, has spent the past few days studying the playbook in his hotel room while trying to get acclimated with the language of the offense. But he doesn't anticipate having trouble meshing with the Clippers.
''I don't come in and say I'm going to try and fit in. I just do what I do, I am who I am, and hopefully guys like that,'' Billups said. ''I've never had a problem. I'm always very humble with how I do what I do. Guys usually rally around that and gravitate towards that. I don't see this situation being any different.''
What remains to be seen is how the Clippers juggle a rotation that features three All-Star point guards in Paul, Billups and Mo Williams, who played in 22 games with the Clippers last season after arriving from the Cleveland Cavaliers in a deal for Baron Davis.
Coach Vinny Del Negro said he plans on starting a backcourt featuring both Paul and Billups, with Williams coming off the bench. Paul, for one, isn't concerned with labeling the roles between Billups and himself.
''I think with me and Chauncey it will just be guards,'' he said. ''That's the thing I'm most excited about, is playing off the ball. Chauncey is a point guard, but when we're both out there on the court we are both just guards. Either one of us can handle the ball.''
Since word of the Paul-to-Clippers trade leaked, fans are already salivating at the thought of Paul lofting alley-oops to Blake Griffin, last year's Slam Dunk Contest winner during All-Star festivities at Staples Center.
Paul likens his new relationship with Griffin to the one shaped with former teammate Tyson Chandler, who was on the receiving end of many a Paul lob during their days together with the Hornets. But Griffin isn't ready to get ahead of himself with the ''Lob City'' talk just yet.
''I think that's something that people have hyped up too much,'' Griffin said. ''I'm just eager to get on the court with him. He makes the game easier for all of us, so I'm looking forward to that.''
Paul hasn't yet decided where he will live for the foreseeable future, saying he and his wife will begin looking at properties soon. Paul then asked a group of reporters where they recommended he live.
Wherever he decides that place is, Paul said the main thing is convenience. He wants to be as close to the team's training facility as possible, eager to put in the hard work with his new teammates.
''I'm like a kid in a candy store,'' Paul said. ''I just can't wait to get out there and compete.''