Clippers guard Chris Paul chats with new teammate J.J. Redick during a news… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
Chris Paul and five other Clippers attended a news conference Wednesday at the team's practice facility, all of them neatly dressed in suits and ties and all of them excited about what the future might bring.
Paul said he signed a five-year contract extension, worth $107.3 million, because the Clippers offered him "the best opportunity to win."
He paused and looked at the other players sitting with him, all of them nodding in agreement as if they had come to the same conclusion.
The group included guard J.J. Redick, who came to the Clippers from the Milwaukee Bucks in a sign-and-trade; forward Jared Dudley, who arrived here in a trade with the Phoenix Suns; forward Matt Barnes and center Ryan Hollins, who both re-signed because they had a taste of winning with the Clippers last season; and free-agent guard Darren Collison, who signed with the Clippers after playing in Dallas last season.
Now Doc Rivers, the Clippers' new coach and senior vice president of basketball operations, has the task of putting this team in position to win plenty of games.
Rivers said he's the type of coach to have high expectations.
"Right now, my expectation for them is the sacrifice that they are going to have to give," Rivers said. "And if we do that part, then I think we can be really, really good."
Paul, 28, said he has the same lofty goal — to compete for an NBA championship.
"I'm excited about the ups and downs, the highs, the lows of the season to ultimately to get to where we want to be at," Paul said.
The six-time All-Star point guard said after last season ended, and as the free-agency period was about to begin, he was prepared for all the talk about his presumed overpowering influence within the Clippers' organization.
Paul said he knew there would be speculation that he'd played a role in the team's decision not to bring back coach Vinny Del Negro and that Paul was the main one pushing hard for the Clippers to hire Rivers.
"It comes along with it," Paul said. "I knew that going into free agency that any time something happens, everybody was going to say, 'What is Chris doing with it?' But it comes with it."
With these off-season changes, Paul now has the sharpshooters around him that he has always desired.
Dudley has made 40.5% of his three-pointers over a six-year career.
"You're with one of the best point guards in the NBA," Dudley said of Paul. "It's something as a shooter, as any player, you know a guy like him can make you better."
Redick is also known for his shooting. Over his seven-year career, he has shot 42.9% from the field, 39% from three-point range.
"I've never really played with a pass-first guy before, and Chris is that," Redick said. "He's a guy who creates for his teammates and puts them in a position where they can score."
Even though Barnes could have gotten more money from other teams, he took the three-year deal for $11 million to return to the Clippers.
"There were different possibilities and maybe more money at other places," Barnes said. "But at the end of the day, it's about winning. Me taking less allowed us to sign Darren Collison."
The Clippers currently have 12 players on their roster and the team remains interested in re-signing Lamar Odom and free-agent forward Antawn Jamison. They are willing to offer them the veteran's minimum of $1.4 million — given to players with 10-plus years of experience.
The Clippers are also interested in re-signing center/forward Ronny Turiaf.
"I'm really big on character," Rivers said. "I'm really big on it. I'll turn down a more talented player for a better fit for this team. I think we've done a good job of that."