Clippers welcome new faces at media day
LOS ANGELES ---There were a lot of new faces at the Clippers' Playa Vista training facility for the team's annual media day.
Of the 20 players on the training camp roster, 12 of them were not members of the team last season.
Depth won't be a concern. The collection of talent rivals nothing team president Andy Roeser has seen with the Clippers in his 28 years with the organization.
Included in the group of newcomers are three championship rings, two NBA Sixth Man of the Year awards, and a player with 18 years of NBA experience under his belt.
The Clippers, not far removed from being the laughingstock of the NBA, have all of a sudden become a destination for players around the league.
"Players want to come into situations where they can be successful and I think right now the Clippers are poised to have a very successful season," Roeser said. "Talent attracts talent and having a nucleus of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin here makes it easier for us to win free-agent battles and attract more talent."
And the Clippers have a bunch of it. Roeser calls it the "best roster that the Clippers have ever put together," which includes a bench that may be the best in the NBA.
"I honestly think we're the deepest team in the league," said center DeAndre Jordan. "We have guys that can definitely start for other NBA teams who are going to come off the bench and really just be all-in to what we have here."
For many, it's the deepest team they've ever been a part of.
"By far," Jamal Crawford said. "Not even close."
In Lamar Odom and Grant Hill, the team has versatility coming off of the bench in guys not only able to play different positions but guard different positions as well.
Crawford, like Odom, is a former NBA Sixth Man of the Year. He's one of four players in NBA history to score 50 points in a game with three different teams.
"I'm trying to get him to make it four," Odom said.
Crawford has never been shy about his FGA's, but with so much talent around him, he may not need to shoot the ball as much.
The balance of shots and minutes falls on third-year head coach Vinny Del Negro. It's a good problem to have but one that's going to have to get sorted out. However, that won't be done immediately. When the Clippers open training camp Saturday, their projected starting backcourt won't be available. Chauncey Billups, coming off of surgery to repair a torn left Achilles tendon, and Chris Paul, who underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb, will both be limited.
"We're going to have enough time," Del Negro said. "Our guys will be back. You want them ready tomorrow but injuries are a part of the profession.
"We want to use the depth in a positive way so we can play at a higher level and a bit more consistent level but it's easy to talk about. We got to see how everyone fits in, how we get guys back from injury, how we mold the team."
A majority of the players have been working out together at the team facility for the past month, helping with team chemistry. Still, it's going to take more than a few pickup games for the players to come together within the realm of Del Negro's system.
But how long?
"Two weeks," Hill joked.
"As long as we continue to get better and continue to build that trust and just meld all these talents and abilities together (we'll be OK). Do I expect it to be great the first preseason game? Hopefully. But hopefully it'll be better as we get into the end of the season and that's the gameplan."
With their depth to go along with front-line talent, the Clippers have to be mentioned in NBA championship discussions – thanks to this offseason and the one prior.
"We've had two really good offseasons in seven months," Roeser said.
It puts more pressure on Del Negro to win, which he's fully aware of.
"I know every night we are going to have an opportunity to win a basketball (game) with this team," Del Negro said.
It wasn't too long ago that you couldn't mention that statement and Clippers in the same breath.
Then again, you couldn't mention Clippers and this sort of talent in the same breath, either.