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LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS MEDIA CONFERENCE
July 21, 2015
THE MODERATOR:¬† To those joining us here at Staples Center this afternoon, we welcome you.¬† Who would have thought last May, when it came to an end all so suddenly, that we would be here today with this group of players available to this basketball team on a rebuilt Clipper roster.¬† You add Lance Stephenson, who we introduced you to a month or so ago.¬† It is pretty amazing what has been accomplished in the last month or so.¬† We'll give you a chance to meet all these players.¬† We'll get introductory comment from each of them.¬† We'll give you a chance to ask some questions.¬† It's going to be a great day for this franchise.¬† It was about a year ago we introduced a new owner.¬† Now, this is the next stage, the next page where we introduce a brand new Clipper basketball team.¬† We've got the new logo, a new identity for the ball club, and I think the goals now have been raised to the very highest level.¬† This team is poised now to compete for an NBA Championship.
Let me introduce them to you one at a time.¬† In the middle in the front, president of basketball operations, the head coach of the Clippers, Doc Rivers.¬† Also a player who is back for his eighth season, and he did it in kind of a circuitous route, but he got here and that's all that really counts.¬† It's birth date No. 27 and I couldn't be more thrilled to say happy birthday to DeAndre Jordan.¬† Also returning to the team an exciting young player who joined the ball club in a mid‑season trade last year.¬† He had some bright and shining moments in the playoffs for sure.¬† Welcome back to Austin Rivers.
You've got five players now who are new to the ball club.¬† I don't know what sleight of hand was used to make it happen.¬† But somehow this ball club got rebuilt in rather stunning fashion over the course of the last few weeks.
Got a big rugged center from the University of Kansas, so valuable to have a capable big man available to you off the bench, glad he's here, Cole Aldrich.
Clippers went into the draft without a single draft pick.¬† They came out buying No. 56 from New Orleans, and got a young fellow of some promise from Michigan State.¬† Played very, very well in the summer league in Orlando.¬† Glad to have you meet Branden Dawson.
Wes Johnson kind of moved down the hall.¬† Staying in LA for next season.¬† We're really glad that he's in the right locker room now.¬† Wes Johnson.
Another player, no stranger to Los Angeles at all, this is, I think, the third straight summer the Clippers tried so mightily to acquire him but he wound up going to Brooklyn, he wound up going to Washington, finally third year is a charm, welcome home The Truth, Paul Pierce.
Finally, a versatile and exciting big man, the youngest player in NBA history to come up with 1,000 blocks.¬† He's only 29 now.¬† Member of the Houston Rockets last year, did some dastardly things to the Clippers in this very building in Game 6, a real thorn in the Clippers' side in the playoffs, welcome, Josh Smith.
This is a new and exciting group.¬† I had no idea when the season ended, looking at the resources the Clippers had, the limitations of the salary cap, that they could somehow get this assemblage together on this stage today.
I'm reminded of a recent quote from President Barack Obama.¬† He said I know what I'm doing and I'm fearless.¬† It could well be that Doc Rivers might have said the same thing when the season ended, based on what he's accomplished.¬† Here's Doc Rivers.
COACH RIVERS:¬† Well, thank you.¬† You used a lot of big words there, Ralph, that I don't know if any of us know what you were talking about.¬† But we're going to go with it.
Yeah, it's been a great summer for us.¬† And I look around just this and not even including the guys that are not here, and I love what we've assembled.¬† And now the next step for us is to turn all this talent on paper into a team.
And that's what we have to do.¬† We, on paper, I like us against anyone.¬† I'm sure other teams will say the same thing.¬† But we all know from being around this that it's going to take a group that wants to play together, wants to get together and wants to win together.
And that's our goal now.¬† The first part we've done.¬† Now, the big part is coming up.¬† And that's what's looking forward to.¬† I love this group again.¬† I'm excited about the upcoming season, and I can't wait to get it started.
Usually at this time I don't say that.¬† But with this group I really can.¬† I can't wait to get in the gym and just see how we're going to use them all.
THE MODERATOR:¬† Next up, the birthday boy, 27 years old today.¬† You may have some questions for him.¬† I'm not sure.¬† We'll get to that a bit later.¬† Some opening comments from DeAndre Jordan.
DEANDRE JORDAN:¬† Well, I just want to say thank you to everybody for coming out to support our team and the new players that we are adding to our roster.
But this definitely was a long process.¬† And I'm happy that we're all here today and we're all part of this organization.¬† And I look forward to some great things this year.
THE MODERATOR:¬† D.J. and his family and friends here ready to celebrate the birthday a bit later.¬† Right now a young man who is back, and we're glad that he's back.¬† You're up next, Austin.
AUSTIN RIVERS:¬† I just want to say I'm happy to be back.¬† Very excited towards the season.¬† And I just want to pick up where I left off and just try to contribute in any way I can to help this team win.¬† And just very excited to play with the players I played with last season and my new teammates.
THE MODERATOR:¬† Let's hear from Cole Aldrich.
COLE ALDRICH:¬† Just excited to be here with a great group of guys and continue to work hard and hopefully finish the season with our goal of a championship.
THE MODERATOR:¬† Here's Branden Dawson.
BRANDEN DAWSON:¬† Just to go off what those guys said.¬† Definitely excited to be here.¬† Really excited to play with these guys.¬† I mean I'm a rookie, so really just going to be a sponge, just learn anything I can, and I'm just ready to win.
THE MODERATOR:¬† And down at the end, Wes Johnson.
WESLEY JOHNSON:¬† I think everybody else has said it.¬† But for me I think it's a great opportunity for me.¬† I'm definitely going to take advantage of it.¬† I'm happy to be here.¬† I'm excited for the season.¬† Definitely going to try to learn and pick everybody's brain from all the players.¬† So, from Paul to CP to everybody, just try to get all the knowledge I can from definitely those veterans and excited to play with the guys.¬† So I'm just looking forward to the season.
THE MODERATOR:¬† Now to The Truth, Paul.
PAUL PIERCE:¬† Just excited to be here with the organization and the turns it's made over the last few years bringing in Doc, bringing in Ballmer, bringing in Chris Paul and DeAndre and Blake.¬† I grew up here and had a chance to watch the organization get to the point that it is today, a first‑class organization.
And now that I'm here, I'm happy to say that I'm proud to be a part of it and have the opportunity to win a championship right here with the guys we have, Doc, with the players I mentioned.¬† I think this is a unique opportunity.¬† And I'm happy to be here.
THE MODERATOR:¬† The last piece added to this promising puzzle now is Josh Smith.
JOSH SMITH:¬† They've pretty much said everything.¬† Just happy to be here.¬† Hopefully we can do something historic for this franchise.¬† I feel like we had the right pieces to do it.¬† We just have to be able to, like Coach said, get it done early on and that starts in September and not in training camp.
THE MODERATOR:¬† Questions?
Q.¬† First of all, DeAndre, happy birthday to you.¬† This is a two‑parter for you and Coach, DeAndre what made you change your mind to come back to the Clippers?¬† And Doc, have you heard or seen anything like this happening before in your long and distinguished career in the NBA?
DEANDRE JORDAN:¬† Well, Jim, I think that when I factored coming back to the Clippers I really thought about being on one team for my entire career and that was really important to me.¬† I've been here and the past two seasons I've had I have been really successful with this guy and with this group of players and the organization.¬† And the sky's the limit for our team.
And I also feel like I know the city.¬† I know the fans.¬† The team, and I'm used to the city of LA and I love it here.
COACH RIVERS:¬† First of all, he never left.¬† I just want‑‑ I keep hearing that he came back.¬† He never left.¬† He talked about it.¬† But he came back, and I tell D.J. all the time it needs to be celebrated for making the right decision.¬† I think he had that right to do that.¬† And he did that.
It has happened before.¬† It happens in business all the time.¬† And you know the difference is what we do is public.¬† And so everybody gets a chance to talk about it.
And they did.¬† And that's fine.¬† I think at the end of the day, I think from a player's standpoint, you want that player to always end up where he should end up and where he wants to end up.¬† And if it takes going through that process, then it's worth it.
And obviously, in my opinion, I think he did exactly what he should do.¬† I think he made the right decision.¬† And I think at the end of the day that's what you wanted him to do.
Q.¬† DeAndre, when you originally decided to commit to Dallas, what did they offer that you really liked?¬† And then secondly, after you changed your mind, how did you process what was going to be next for you?¬† Did you have any idea that it was going to play out the way that it played out?
DEANDRE JORDAN:¬† Well, originally when free agency started, this whole fiasco was not my intent.¬† But originally with Dallas, like I said before, I thought I wanted change and I needed change in my career.¬† I wanted a bigger role and more responsibility.¬† And I was ready to embrace and accept that challenge.¬† But then, like I said, when I got by myself and I was able to think about everything that just happened, I realized that being with the Clippers was the best decision for me.
Q.¬† Paul, how close were you in years past to being where you are here today?
PAUL PIERCE:¬† Not quite sure.¬† When I went to Brooklyn, that was a trade.¬† And so this is pretty much the first year‑‑ well, actually‑‑
COACH RIVERS:¬† Last year he should have been here too.
PAUL PIERCE:¬† Well, last year I had opportunity.¬† But sometimes just things don't work out the way sometimes you want them to.¬† Would have loved to have been here last year.¬† But, like I said, had a chance to go to Washington.¬† That was a great experience for me.
And I think things really happen for a reason.¬† I think this is the right timing.¬† Perfect opportunity here today.¬† And I'm glad to say I'm a Clipper today.
Q.¬† Paul, can you talk about how big Doc was in bringing you here, and also what does it feel like to be home?
PAUL PIERCE:¬† I think Doc wasn't really influential.¬† It was more Sam Cassell than anybody.¬† (Laughter).¬† No, I'm just kidding.
I played with Doc longer than any coach I ever played for in my career.¬† Definitely comfortable being around him, being with him.¬† And so that really helps out, especially when you go into a new situation, being around things you're comfortable with.
And it's great to be home.¬† I mean, get an opportunity to play in front of family and friends.¬† Have an opportunity to win a championship.¬† I guess my biggest concern is probably tickets.¬† But this is a tremendous opportunity.¬† I mean, it's like a dream come true growing up right here.¬† Always want to play in my hometown for a opportunity to win a championship.¬† So this is awesome.¬† This is probably the last ride of my career.¬† I think this is where I'm going to end it.
So I'm going to go all in.¬† And if we can win a championship here for the Clippers this will be everything for me.
Q.¬† Josh, how much did DeAndre's decision affect your decision, if at all, and what did you think that you fit in with the Clippers to take the veteran minimum?¬† I guess why did you do that in this situation?
JOSH SMITH:¬† Well, obviously when you're a free agent you make decisions based on where you feel is the best fit for you, in order to make yourself the most successful for you and for your team.
And so looking at this roster, being able to have an opportunity to play for a point guard, arguably one of the best point guards in the game, and a dominant big like DeAndre and Blake, and the supporting cast that surrounds it, it was very attracting to me and this is why I made the decision.
It wasn't about the money, because of the Detroit situation.¬† But at the end of the day, you know, I do have a family.¬† So it is going to be a little harder on me this year, but I'm going to push through it and you know try to do something long term after this year.¬† But I think this year focusing on doing something special with this group of guys.
We have an opportunity to be able to do something special and right now this is what I want to focus on.
Q.¬† DeAndre, there's been a lot of reports about you and CP3 not getting along and that was a factor in you leaving.¬† And then he came and maybe it's a factor to you coming back.¬† Could you address those reports?
DEANDRE JORDAN:¬† I love Chris.¬† Chris is‑‑ when Chris got here he changed the culture of our team.¬† He helped me out in so many ways on and off the floor, just becoming a better player and a student of the game.
I know it maybe looked that way on the floor, because we were both emotional and vocal players.¬† But when it comes down to it, we're all criticizing each other because we want what's best for the team.
And I just feel like when you do butt heads on the floor, 30seconds later it's over because we're all trying to win a basketball game.¬† And I think that we let facial expressions and outside stories dictate what we believe.¬† But Chris is like a big brother to me and other guys on this team.
Q.¬† Austin, when you first got here last season, a lot of us wondered how is it going to go, you playing for your pops.¬† How do you think that went?¬† And how easy was it for your decision to come back?
AUSTIN RIVERS:¬† It was definitely challenging at first, just because I knew what I'd have to deal with just coming here and what it would look like for me, and also just the questions of how could a father‑and‑son relationship work on a professional level.
And I took that chance.¬† It was a chance that I needed to take for myself, and because I honestly believed that if I came here, not only would I start to play the way I knew I could play but also help this team in an area where they needed help.¬† And that made my decision really easy.
For this summer, similar to what Josh said, you know, this year's really focusing on me just trying to come in and help this team win.¬† I signed a short‑term deal, and that's something I could look to do later on, to extend it for something longer.
But right now I signed a short deal because I want to come here and help this team win.¬† And that's my focus right now.¬† And I believe we can do so, so it really made my decision very, very easy to come back and really maybe not even try to venture out and see what else is out there because I wanted to be here.
Q.¬† DeAndre, can you describe the day when Doc and Steve Ballmer and basically the whole team comes over.¬† It was a great day on Twitter, I don't know if you were tracking Twitter?
DEANDRE JORDAN:¬† I know you were. (Laughter)
Q.¬† And then there was a feeling that you should have called Mark Cuban because he had talked to you and texted you.¬† Your thoughts on that as well?
DEANDRE JORDAN:¬† Well, when they got to‑‑ first of all, it wasn't a hostage situation.¬† I feel like I'm a pretty big guy and I don't think they can lock me‑‑
COACH RIVERS:¬† No, we could have locked him up.¬† If we wanted to that would have happened.
DEANDRE JORDAN:¬† Inside my own house.¬† But, no, we all got together and we talked about different things and what we needed to do as an organization to reach the highest goal that we wanted to reach as a group.¬† And, like I said, I realized what was important and this team and this organization was.¬† And I'm happy I'm here and that's why I'm here.
COACH RIVERS:¬† Let me also say Kimberly fed us twice.¬† That's the real reason we stayed.¬† Like‑‑ yeah, she fed us twice, not once.¬† So it was worth staying, I will say that.¬† The food was great, wasn't it, Paul?
PAUL PIERCE:¬† Great.
COACH RIVERS:¬† It was good.
Q.¬† (Inaudible) calling or texting him?
DEANDRE JORDAN:¬† Originally when I committed to Dallas‑‑ I mean I loved Doc, but I didn't call him.¬† We talked a little bit later.¬† But I mean when we make decisions in life and then we go back and change our minds on them, I feel like the only thing you can do is man‑up and apologize for it and voice your opinion, and that's what I did.¬† And I can't speak for Mark or anybody else or anything.¬† I'm speaking for myself and that's what I did.
Q.¬† Doc, you talked a lot last season about how tough the West was overall, and you've seen what San Antonio and Golden State are bringing back.¬† How do you feel your roster as it's now constituted stacks up against those two, in particular?
COACH RIVERS:¬† Well, I think we're better.¬† And I think you have to be better.¬† The West is better in a lot of ways.¬† Oklahoma is better because they'll be healthy.
I think people are forgetting about them.¬† San Antonio has gotten a lot better.¬† But I think we have gotten a lot better as well.¬† And Golden State, they're the champs.¬† So they've gotten better by winning it.¬† Their swag, their confidence now will be hard.¬† You have to knock that off.
But the one thing I do look at this team is you look at the last two champions, we've beaten the last two in the playoffs. ¬†Two years ago we beat Golden State and last year we beat San Antonio.¬† So the last two teams that have won titles we knocked them out in the last two years as well.
So tells us we're right there.¬† But we're not over the hump yet.¬† And that's what we have to get this year.¬† I think obviously by having this press conference, we're saying we're ready to do that.
Q.¬† Wes, you're still deeply enmeshed in this Western Conference race that has just gotten more and more fierce I think with what's happened this summer.¬† Your thoughts about life in the West?
WESLEY JOHNSON:¬† It's tough.¬† Everybody can see that.¬† Night in, night out, the teams you go up against, it's a battle.¬† So definitely with the people we added to the team and me coming along, I think we're able to compete every night with them and stand toe to toe with anybody.
But night in, night out, the West it's a tough conference.
Q.¬† Paul, how would you describe your role with this team?¬† And I know it's home but why here, why this team?
PAUL PIERCE:¬† Like I said, I'm at the point in my career where it's winding down.¬† I see the light at the end of the tunnel.¬† I want another opportunity to win a championship.
I thought just being here would be a great fit.¬† I'm a veteran.¬† I could be another voice for the locker room.¬† And I could just pretty much fill any role they need me to play, whether it's in the locker room, on the court, as 3 man, 4 man, team leader, in the locker room, on and off the court, I feel I can just be that kind of like a glue guy.¬† And I'm here with the same goal in mind that everybody else's goal is, and that's to win the championship, truthfully.¬† If I didn't think the Clippers were close, then no matter home or not, I probably wouldn't have made this decision.
Q.¬† DeAndre, you said in the first meeting (inaudible) with Dallas, one of the reasons you wanted to go there was to give you more offensive presence, offensive touches.¬† Did Doc promise you the same thing?¬† Was there any ‑‑ was your role going to change at all?¬† Was that part of influencing you signing with the Clippers?
DEANDRE JORDAN:¬† The only thing that Doc promised me was an extra $8million.¬† That was about it.
COACH RIVERS:¬† No, that was Ballmer.¬† That was Ballmer.¬† (Laughter).
DEANDRE JORDAN:¬† No, in all seriousness, like I said, I wanted a bigger responsibility for myself.¬† I thought I was ready for that in my point in career.¬† I wanted more responsibility, like I said.¬† But, like I said, we talked about it.
Q.¬† Are you going to get that with the Clippers?
DEANDRE JORDAN:¬† I believe so.¬† Like I said, we talked about it.¬† And the best thing for me is to be here, and I'm going to be successful while I'm here.
Q.¬† Cole, give us your thoughts.¬† You've gone from Oklahoma City last year, pretty good year with the New York Knicks, a number of starts with that ball club, and now you're an important figure on a very, very good team.¬† How do you feel about this?
COLE ALDRICH:¬† I love it.¬† You know, going from New York last year, where we struggled, to being on a contending team, it's going to be awesome.¬† You've got a bunch of guys that are going to come in every day and work hard and have fun doing it.¬† And that's the biggest thing is we're a family.
And I appreciate all these guys welcoming me and my wife into the family.¬† And we're really looking forward to LA.
Q.¬† Can you tell us about the rocket ship?
COACH RIVERS:¬† The rocket ship.¬† Did you understand it?¬† Did you get it?¬† Because I'm old school, how about that?¬† (Laughter).
Q.¬† Do you have emojis on your phone?
COACH RIVERS:¬† Yes, I do have emojis.
Q.¬† Josh, how much negatively or positively did that seven‑game series against the Clippers play in your decision to come here?¬† What did you learn from the team or see from the team in that series?¬† And a second part for D.J., how much did that series and the unfinished business play a part in your decision?
JOSH SMITH:¬† I mean, it was a tough series.¬† Two competitive teams going at it.¬† Not one to lose.¬† But, I mean, Houston was a great opportunity.
I've already issued a statement and showing my gratitude and appreciation for what I did and what they allowed me to do out there.¬† And I saw where this offseason when they acquired Paul Pierce and they got DeAndre back and Cole Aldrich, re‑signed Austin, I felt like this was the best fit for me.¬† And the conversation that I had with Doc, it made me feel that much more comfortable at making my decision to come here.
DEANDRE JORDAN:¬† I just think what we've done the past two seasons, we're going in the right direction.¬† We've gone through so much the past two years of just, in the postseason and throughout the season, and we've overcome a lot of it.¬† And I think that we're close to getting over that hump.
And I definitely feel like we have unfinished business with this team and the pieces we added, and I'm comfortable here and that made it that much easier.
Q.¬† Let me lob one to Branden Dawson.¬† If you had any chance to watch the Clippers' Summer League games in Orlando this year, you saw this young fellow played well with great energy.¬† Now you bring that now to the big club here, Branden.¬† What do you think you're going to bring to this team being the 56th pick in the draft?
BRANDEN DAWSON:¬† I'll say definitely my energy, my toughness, and I'm just a team player.¬† I come from Michigan State.¬† Always been competitive, playing with Tom Izzo, it's something that he instilled in me, just being competitive, playing with energy and I'm going to do whatever it takes.
I love to win and I like being around a good group of guys.¬† And I'm willing to do anything.¬† So I'm excited.
Q.¬† Wes, when you signed here a lot of these guys hadn't signed yet.¬† When you've seen what they've done now through the offseason, how much more exciting does it make it?
WESLEY JOHNSON:¬† Very.¬† When I initially signed, I was just‑‑ get a chance to win, I think that was my mindset, I want a chance to win.¬† My track record through my career is I've been on teams, unfortunately, that have been bad.
So fortunately I'm on the other side and looking forward to the season, looking forward to expectation that we have, like to win a championship, and after they start signing the group of guys they did, I think that we're able to compete with anybody.
So I think we have a clear shot of winning it.
Q.¬† Doc, you guys have 13 guys, I think, under contract right now.¬† Are you done for the summer?¬† Are you guys still looking at maybe adding a 14th guy, or do you want that flexibility in that space?
COACH RIVERS:¬† We like the flexibility.¬† I wouldn't say we're done either, having said that.¬† But we're just going to wait, typically with free agents it's the beginning and then it's the very end.¬† The middle kind of goes silent for a while and you see guys kind of fall.¬† But we have enough right now, I can tell you that.¬† But if we can improve the team we'll try to do that.
I've been talking about this all year, Special Olympics, they start this week, Friday, Saturday is opening ceremonies.¬† It's a big deal.¬† I know a lot of people don't know about Special Olympics.¬† I think you really should and everyone go out, please.¬† It's a terrific event.
THE MODERATOR:¬† Thank you.
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