Clippers are Griffin’s team more than ever with Paul gone
LOS ANGELES (AP) For six years, they were the Los Angeles Clippers’ dynamic duo, a one-two punch that led the team to the playoffs every season.
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were one of the most respected twosomes in the game. The Clippers won over 50 games each of the past five years.
And now they are no more.
With Paul’s contract up, the Clippers traded their nine-time All-Star to the Houston Rockets in the offseason.
Now more than ever, the Clippers are Griffin’s team – a very different team with nine new players.
”There will be times when Blake is the tallest guy on the floor,” coach Doc Rivers said. ”We want him to be an aggressive player, an attack player.
”He’ll bring the ball up at times. He’ll be one of the guys we use as a facilitator.”
Griffin will be whatever the Clippers need at the moment. And that figures to be more than their leading scorer.
”We’re going to be a different team,” Griffin said. ”It’s just the nature of getting so many new guys, but that’s a good thing. We’ve had some regular-season success but we haven’t had true success here. Now’s a good time to move forward.”
Griffin, 28, has All-Star center DeAndre Jordan back in the middle. Danilo Gallinari is the new small forward. Patrick Beverley – who came over in the Paul trade – takes over at point guard, and either Lou Williams or Austin Rivers will start at shooting guard.
That’s a lot of new.
”It’s going to take some time with this many new guys,” Griffin said. ”It’s on the guys who are coming back, who have been here year after year, to kind of help lead the way a little bit and show them how we do things here.
”We’re going to be a team that’s fun to watch. Get up and down and play hard.”
That was a recurrent theme at the Clippers’ media day on Monday. Despite the loss of Paul – considered by many the league’s best point guard – the Clippers expect to run more this season than ever.
”I think (his loss) mandates a change in style,” Rivers said. ”Probably the style I’m more familiar to begin with. I’ve always been a ball-movement coach. I think we can get back into that.
”I do want to play at a higher pace. You go into camp and you look at your team and you’ll find the pace that they want to play at. I think we should be an up-tempo team, an early-strike team. We should be a very physical team.”
Even with Paul, the Clippers never could advance beyond the Western Conference semifinals. Some demanded change, and change has arrived.
”I’m excited about this new challenge,” Griffin said. ”It’s going to be fun.”
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