Griffin Enthusiastic About Clippers Interest In Paul
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — With Chris Paul’s future in limbo, Blake Griffin weighed in enthusiastically on the possibility of the Los Angeles Clippers landing the All-Star guard.
“We’d love to have him,” he said Tuesday, “but if it doesn’t work out, everybody on this team knows that we’re ready to roll with this team.”
The Clippers on Monday called off a proposed deal with the New Orleans Hornets to land Paul, with general manager Neil Olshey saying they would have had to give up too much.
Asked Tuesday if the team was still interested, Olshey said, “If you pick up the phone you’re going to have to listen to what somebody has to say. We are not actively making phone calls trying to acquire any new players at this point.”
Whether the Clippers land Paul or not, they’re clearly feeling good about recent moves that have added Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler while retaining center DeAndre Jordan.
“We think we’ve got a product on the floor right now that’s giving a lot of people in the Western Conference pause,” Olshey said. “We’re as big and as deep as any team in the league right now. We think we’re a threat already.”
Billups, the veteran All-Star point guard claimed by the Clippers a day earlier off the NBA’s amnesty waiver, was expected to join training camp on Wednesday after attending to family matters.
His addition wasn’t welcome news for guard Mo Williams, whose minutes could be reduced with Billups running the offense. Billups has been a starter on all the other teams he’s played for.
“When you’re a starting point guard for a team and you see a team trade for a point guard and bring a point guard in, obviously it’s a shock to you,” Williams said. “I worked my (rear) off this summer getting prepared for this opportunity to lead this team, so yeah, it was a shock to me.”
Williams, who joined the Clippers from Cleveland in February, didn’t directly answer when asked whether he’d be willing to come off the bench. He said he didn’t want to turn the situation into him vs. Billups because Billups helped him when he first joined the league.
“I’m going through adverse times,” he said. “I’ll make it out. You still got to come to work and approach it like a man.”
Billups may have some issues of his own. The 35-year-old guard was waived by the Knicks last weekend and suddenly found himself part of the amnesty waiver, a result of the new collective bargaining agreement that came out of the 149-day lockout. Free agency wasn’t an option.
“It’s been hard for him. At this point in his career, he was hoping to kind of control where he ended up,” Olshey said. “It’s our job to kind of recruit him and indoctrinate him into our culture and get him excited about this team.”
Some of the work may involve dispelling the Clippers’ image as a losing team that elite players don’t want to be part of.
“The perception isn’t the reality of what he’s going to walk into,” Olshey said.
Butler is settling in with his new team, having signed a $24 million, three-year deal Friday that gave the Clippers an upgrade at small forward. Williams lured Butler with a personal pitch.
“This was very intriguing,” Butler said about joining a team that includes Griffin and guard Eric Gordon. “You got great talent.”
Olshey said the team is focused on opening talks with Gordon’s agent on a contract extension.
“I’m pretty sure of that,” Gordon said when asked if he expects to stay with the Clippers.
Jordan joined the team for the first time since the lockout ended. The Clippers matched a $42.7 million, four-year offer sheet from the Golden State Warriors for the third-year center on Monday.
“I’m happy I’m here,” he said.
Griffin is busy laying the groundwork for a follow-up to last season, when he was the league’s rookie of the year and won the slam dunk contest during All-Star weekend.
“A year makes a huge difference,” he said. “Last year in training camp I was trying to prove I belong. This year it’s much more relaxed.”
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.