Cole Aldrich stoked to be with Clippers after escape from New York

Cole Aldrich

Cole Aldrich/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers

 

You have to wonder who might have been the happiest guy in the room Tuesday when the Clippers hosted a news conference at Staples Center to re-introduce DeAndre Jordan and Austin Rivers to L.A. reporters, as well as introduce newcomers Paul Pierce, Wesley Johnson, Josh Smith, Branden Dawson and Cole Aldrich.

Well, since Jordan just signed a four-year contract worth an estimated $88 to stay with the Clippers, he was probably the most stoked in a room that also included coach Doc Rivers. But Aldrich was, perhaps, almost as thrilled because he went from the rebuilding New York York Knicks to the contending Clippers in a New York minute.

“I love it,” said Aldrich, a 6-foot-11 post who will back up Jordan. “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.”

Aldrich, 26, played his college ball at Kansas. He has career scoring and rebounding averages of 3.1 and 3.4. But he’s coming off his best season, in which he averaged 5.5 points and 5.5 rebounds as well as 1.1 blocks.

Aldrich signed a two-year contract with a player option for the second season. He is slated to make the veterans’ minimum this coming season, which for him is $1,100,602.

Wesley Johnson may have changed teams, but he’s still in the West

Wesley Johnson

Wesley Johnson/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Lakers

 

Wesley Johnson recently moved down the hall to sign with the Clippers. He may have changed teams, but he’s still in the ultra-tough Western Conference.

“It’s tough,” said Johnson, who played the past two seasons with the Lakers. “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.”

Johnson averaged 9.9 points this past season for the Lakers.

Clippers agree to terms with guard Pablo Prigioni on 1-year deal

Although no contract has been signed, the Clippers have come to terms on a 1-year agreement with guard Pablo Prigioni, a league source has confirmed.

Prigioni, out of Argentina, would be paid the veterans’ minimum, which in his case is $981,348. Prigioni, 38, has played three seasons in the NBA. He played two-plus seasons with the New York Knicks before being traded to the Houston Rockets in February.

Prigioni has a career scoring average of 3.8 points. He’s also averaged 3.0 assists.

Paul Pierce would not have signed with Clippers if title were not possible

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce/Photo courtesy of Washington Wizards

 

Paul Pierce won a title with the Boston Celtics in 2008 under current Clippers coach Doc Rivers. Pierce was Finals MVP. Interestingly, if Pierce – signed by the Clippers as a free agent – didn’t think the Clippers had the goods to win a championship in this upcoming season, he likely would have gone elsewhere.

Pierce on Tuesday was one of seven players introduced or re-introduced as members of the Clippers at a news conference at Staples Center. First, Pierce talked about what he believes his role on the team might be. The 6-foot-7 Pierce could take the departed Matt Barnes’ starting spot at small forward, or he could come off the bench.

“Like I said, I’m at the point in my career where it’s winding down,” he said. “I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I want another opportunity to win a championship. I just thought 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.”

Most of all, he wants another ring.

“And I’m here with the same goal in mind that everybody else’s goal is and that’s to win a championship, truthfully,” he said. “If I didn’t think the Clippers were close, then no matter home or not, I probably wouldn’t have made this decision.”

Pierce, 37, played his high-school ball at Inglewood High. He will be entering his 18th season in the NBA. He played his first 15 seasons for the Celtics, the past two for Brooklyn and Washington, respectively.

Doc Rivers has an idea how his rotation might go, but he’s not saying

Los Angeles Clippers press conference to announce new and returning players Tuesday July 21, 2015 at Staples Center. Players from left holding jerseys are Branden Dawson, Deandre Jordan, Austin Rivers, Josh Smith, Cole Aldrich, Paul Pierce and Wesley Johnson.
Photo By  Robert Casillas / Daily Breeze

Clippers coach Doc Rivers poses with five new players and DeAndre Jordan and Austin Rivers at Tuesday’s news conference/Staff photo by Robert Casillas

 

It was Tuesday, about 12:30 p.m., and Doc Rivers had just finished playing host to a news conference at Staples Center. He was there to re-introduce DeAndre Jordan and Austin Rivers (Doc’s son), as well as five new players, to the Los Angeles media. The five included forwards Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, Wesley Johnson and Branden Dawson and center Cole Aldrich; Dawson was picked No. 56 in the June draft, the other four were signed as free agents.

The question now is, what’s the lineup and the overall rotation going to look like?

“I have an idea,” said Doc Rivers, who will be entering this third season as head coach.

With small forward Matt Barnes now gone via a trade, will Pierce start in his spot? Perhaps it will be Smith. Or Lance Stephenson, who earlier this off-season was introduced after coming over in the trade with the Charlotte Hornets for Barnes and Spencer Hawes.

Doc Rivers wouldn’t say.

“I want to make them play,” he said.

In other words, there will be a fight for that spot, as well as for playing time in general.

At 37, Pierce may be better suited to come off the bench. And since Stephenson could be used at three different positions – guard, point guard and small forward – he might be more useful as a reserve as well. That would seem to leave Smith with the best shot at starting at small forward. Smith, who can play power forward as well, could spell Blake Griffin at that spot, too.

This is not to discount Johnson, who played the past two seasons with the Lakers. He can play both small forward and shooting guard.

The obvious starters at this moment are J.J. Redick and Chris Paul at the guard spots, Jordan at center and Griffin at power forward.

DeAndre Jordan talks about his alleged discord with Chris Paul

DeAndre Jordan

DeAndre Jordan/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers

 

A beef with teammate Chris Paul was supposedly one reason why DeAndre Jordan initially accepted a deal to leave the Clippers and sign with the Dallas Mavericks. Jordan on Tuesday was asked about that when he and several other Clippers played host to a news conference at Staples Center.

“I love Chris,” said Jordan, who changed his mind and re-signed with the Clippers. “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, 30 seconds 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.”

Paul allegedly was unhappy that the poor free-throw shooting Jordan did not spend enough time working on that part of his game.

Jordan has spent all seven seasons of his career with the Clippers. He signed on for four more at a total of roughly $88 million.