Chris Paul set for first practice with Clippers

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


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


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


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


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


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


”I’m like a kid in a candy store,” Paul said. ”I just can’t

wait to get out there and compete.”