Matt Barnes has played for nine teams in his 10-year NBA career and it all started in 2004 when he found his way to the Clippers. Fayetteville of the D-League and 17 games with Long Beach of the ABA were behind him.
The glory days of the remnants of a 28-54 Clippers season greeted him.
He laughed when he explained why he was so satisfied Wednesday, when Barnes talked about the three-year, $11 million contract he signed.
“Stability,” he said over and over as if to convince himself.
“I’m not supposed to be here, I’m not supposed to be in the NBA, I’ve bounced around, I’ve been down and out and to be on a contender now . . .” Barnes said, not needing to finish the sentence.
“After 11 years of scratching and clawing, I’m still scratching and clawing but I get to do it in the same place. And we have one of the better teams in the league.
“For myself and for the team we’ve come full circle. My rookie year, we were terrible. They know it, we know it, the world knows it. To see 10, 11 years later to even have something like this, people care about who the Clippers are signing now. The team’s come a long way and the I’ve come a long way personally.”
As it turns out, Barnes is not merely a valued tough guy off the bench who will unflinchingly shoot a 3-pointer. His influence reached deep last season on and off the court.
“Matt wants to win. You can just feel that when you’re around him,” Coach Doc Rivers said. “It’s so important. He loved the guys from last year. He was great to talk to on the phone, not about coming back, but just about the team. For me, he may have been the most important guy to bring back — obviously Chris (Paul) — just because he wanted to, and his knowledge of the team that’s already in place.”
J.J. Redick took a cut in pay to join the Clippers. Wait, he did what? Well, the chance to make a run with Doc Rivers and Chris Paul did make a difference.
“Who would have thought five, six years ago, a Boston Celtics head coach would want to come to the L.A. Clippers? It shows how far this franchise has come,” Redick said. “The fact that Chris didn’t really entertain anything (other than re-signing with the Clippers) speaks volumes as well. Those two things happening, it was a no-brainer for me.
“Doc and I had talked before everything kind of happened. I’ve never really played with a pass-first guy before and Chris is that. He’s a guy who creates for his teammates and puts the ball in a position where they can score and I’m very excited about that.”
Redick has made a name for himself as a shooter but has won admiration for his tenacious attitude as well.
“He’s tough, rugged, not just a shooter, he will mix it up and get physical and that’s what I appreciate about him because I’ve seen a lot of guys try to go at him and he stands up for himself,” said Matt Barnes,also a teammate of Redick’s in Orlando. “He definitely has me backing him up again, but I like him, he stands on his own and he’s not afraid of anybody. Not to mention the great shooter he is.”
Darren Collison joined two other former UCLA Bruins, Matt Barnes and Ryan Hollins, as the Clippers celebrated their newly formed roster on Wednesday.
Collison has played for three teams already in his four-year career, but the former Etiwanda High star didn’t mind plying his trade far from Southern California. But at this point in his career, he’s willing to make an exception.
“I’m not a fan of playing at home because of all the distractions that come with it,” Collison said. “But at the same time, it helps. It’s good to have the support system behind you but I think the biggest reason was to try to win the championship. I think this is a good choice for me.”
Collison began his career in New Orleans where a certain point guard named Chris Paul was running the show. Not a bad way to begin a career, and now that his career has matured a bit, he’s ready to contribute even more not only behind Paul, but next to him.
“It was extremely big,” Collison said. “Any time you get to play with one of the best guards in the league, you want to take that opportunity. I think the reason why we had so much success in New Orleans is because me and Chris had opportunities to play with one another at the same time. It gives him a lot more breathing space where he has another guy on the team who can create and get to the paint and kick out for others.”
The Clippers waived forward DaJuan Summers on Tuesday, but they’re not exactly saying goodbye. Summers will still play with the Clippers in their summer league games in Las Vegas from July 12-22.
Summers, from Georgetown, signed a 10-day contract with the club in March and then was signed for the rest of the season in April. He appeared in only two games.
The Clippers also announced Rivers’ staff, which includes former Clippers coach Alvin Gentry as associate head coach. Gentry coached the Clippers from 2000-03.
The assistants named by the Clippers are Armond Hill, Kevin Eastman and Tyronn Lue. Eastman was an assistant for Rivers in Boston for the past eight seasons. Lue, the former Lakers player, will also coach the Clippers’ summer league team.
The club also announced that JP Clark will be assistant players skills coach.
Reggie Bullock was unveiled as the Clippers’ newest draft pick on Monday afternoon, and so was his new uniform.
Standing alongside, the jersey bore No. 25, the same number Rivers wore during his NBA career, which included a one-season stop with the Clippers. No pressure there.
“Being a Clipper, coming to one of the best cities in America, playing for one of the best coaches and playing for a great team, I’m just trying to bring whatever I can to this team just try to help them out the best way possible,” said Bullock, who was the team’s first-round pick in last month’s NBA Draft. “I’m just going to play my game. They’ve seen so much film on me they know what I’m capable of doing, which is shooting the ball and defending. So I’m just trying to be effective on defense and knock down the shots when they come to me.”
With the league moratorium on commenting on potential free-agent signings still in effect, Clippers coach Doc Rivers could at least signal the direction his club is headed as the official signing announcement day looms Wednesday.
The Clippers subtracted Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler via trade but have added J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley and Darren Collison. Forward Antawn Jamison, who played for the Lakers last season, figures to be the next announcement.
“Our whole thing was adding shooting, shooting, shooting,” Rivers said Monday. “I think you can kind of tell one of the areas we thought we had to improve our team in is in shooting, and that’s what we’re trying to do this summer. We’ve done that.
“We still are looking for a couple other guys, but we’re bringing back the nucleus for the most part. We’re talking to everyone. We obviously have enough guards, 1′s, 2′s and 3′s. Our next focus is on bigs. But just one, maybe two.”
The Clippers began to rework the team that will surround Chris Paul and Blake Griffin on Tuesday by trading guard Eric Bledsoe and forward Caron Butler to Phoenix in a three-team deal that will bring them guard Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick.
Dudley comes from Phoenix, where the shooting guard averaged 10.9 points per game last season. Redick, another shooter, comes from the Bucks, who will receive a second-round draft pick from both the Clippers and the Suns.
Redick will reportedly agree to a four-year, $27 million contract. Dudley has three years left on a contract that pays him $4.25 million per season.
The deal immediately addresses the Clippers’ outside shooting shortcomings, which will open up the floor for Paul and his pick-and-roll game.
The tweet was short, but to the point.
“I’M IN!!! #CLIPPERNATION.” From Chris Paul’s keyboard to the Clippers’ ears, what had been widely anticipated appears to be true as the All-Star point guard is headed toward signing a five-year, $107 million contract to return to the team.
The free agent was wooed by Coach Doc Rivers Sunday night and made the Twitter announcement on Monday. Per NBA rules, deals can be struck but not officially signed until July 10.
Paul, the pillar of the foundation on the floor and in the locker room, now stands as a beacon for other free agents glancing in the Clippers’ direction. That also began in earnest as the free agency chase opened after midnight eastern time on Monday.
The Clippers have reportedly been in contact with former USC star O.J. Mayo, a player Rivers coveted when he coached the Celtics. The Clippers may also be pursuing guard Tony Allen of the Memphis Grizzlies.
With Mayo, the Clippers would added shooting help and with Allen, they would bolster their perimeter defense. Those are two of the shortcomings weaknesses the Clippers have vowed to shore up for next season.