PLAYA VISTA, Calif. –The Clippers began training camp after an intriguing summer, which included salvaging the services of DeAndre Jordan, while adding those of key free agents Lance Stephenson and Paul Pierce. After suffering a disappointing second-round exit from the 2015 playoffs at the hands of the Houston Rockets, Head Coach Doc Rivers believes this installment of the Clippers may be his best.
“I thought we made a push last year, we just didn’t get there,” explained Rivers to Jim Hill of CBS in Los Angeles. “This is clearly the most talent we’ve had since I’ve been here and it’s not even close. We’re deep at multiple positions, and that was our goal this summer, getting players who can play at different positions out on the floor.”
Gone is the erratic and inconsistent Matt Barnes, replaced by the less mercurial and more productive Lance Stephenson. Rivers noted that Stephenson’s multifaceted game coincided with his vision of a roster filled with players who aren’t limited to one specialty.
“I put in a lot of work this summer by working on my condition and my jump-shot,” Stephenson said. “Just focussing on how I can be a better player, and what I can do to come in and help this team.”
Doc Rivers also convinced 18-year veteran and Inglewood native Paul Pierce to rejoin his former coach to make another title run.
“I honestly thought the Clippers would win it all last year,” admitted Pierce. After helping a young Washington Wizards team experience playoff success, Pierce is ready to lend his championship pedigree to the Clippers.
“I believe I can bring an attitude,” said Pierce.”I think to win in this league you have to have a certain nastiness to you, a certain kind of attitude. I can really help in that department.”
With the additions of forward Josh Smith and guard Pablo Prigioni, the Clippers bring in two players that contributed to their ousting last season. Smith, who has averaged 12 points and six rebounds over his career is an upgrade over Glen Davis and Hedo Turkoglu, despite criticisms of his defense and shot selection.
But Doc Rivers isn’t yet ready to assess what he’s assembled.
“I don’t know what type of team we are, I’ll let them show me that,” he concluded. “We’ll see how these guys play and then I can tell you what our identity is.”