Chris Paul sat at a table wearing a black suit with a red tie, his eyes bright, a smile on his face, his voice full of hope when he spoke about the future of the Clippers.
He mentioned a word that rarely has been uttered around the Clippers franchise — championship.
Paul emphasized that point Thursday during his introductory news conference.
He had joined the team when the Clippers acquired him from New Orleans on Wednesday for Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu and the unprotected first-round draft pick they got from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
"I'm excited to bring a championship here to L.A. in a Clippers uniform," Paul said. "Knowing that they've never won a championship here, I wanted to be a part of something like that."
That sounds like a tall order even for Paul, a four-time All-Star many consider the best point guard in the NBA.
PHOTOS: Clippers land All-Star Chris Paul
During the 30 years Donald Sterling has owned the Clippers, they have been to the playoffs only four times, the last time in 2006.
"I know about the history of the franchise and different things like that," Paul said. "But this decision wasn't about the past. It was about the present and about the future."
Neil Olshey, the Clippers' executive vice president of basketball operations, said he didn't have to sell Paul on the Clippers.
Olshey knew the Clippers had talent in All-Star forward Blake Griffin, center DeAndre Jordan, newly signed small forward Caron Butler and guard Mo Williams.
The Clippers also acquired Chauncey Billups on Monday by winning the waiver auction bid after he was let go by the New York Knicks, who used the new "amnesty" provision to release him.
Billups was at the practice facility in Playa Vista, but he didn't practice and he didn't speak with the media Thursday. The Clippers will have a news conference with Billups on Friday.
"We've got a big-time chance now to be a major player in the league with the combination of Chris and the rest of the roster," Olshey said. "If Chris didn't think that we were that close to winning at a high level, believe me, he wouldn't be sitting here right now."
The Clippers aren't done dealing.
Olshey said the Clippers need another big man.
They have $3.8 million they can use from the trade exception they just got from the deal and a "mini mid-level exception" of $2.5 million.
Reggie Evans visited the Clippers recently and is being considered, said a person who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. The Clippers like Samuel Dalembert, but his price might be too high, the person said.
It all looks good to Paul.
"The only way the past was talked about at all with Chris was that it will mean more to him to win here," Olshey said.
The deal to get Paul broke off several times with the Clippers and the NBA, which owns and operates the Hornets.
But Olshey said a deal of that magnitude was too important to "let it die."
"His commitment to wanting to be here is what inspired me to not give up," Olshey said of Paul. "We did walk away at one point."
Paul, who will earn $16.3 million this season, said he will pick up the option on his 2012-13 contract for $17.7 million. He can sign a contract extension after that.
"I want to see those Clippers T-shirts around town," Paul said. "I want to see everybody filing into the Staples Center to see us play. And at the end of the day, I want to win."