After coming within one game of the Western Conference Finals last season, the Los Angeles Clippers have added several veterans to the fold, including Paul Pierce, Josh Smith and Lance Stephenson.
Adding that kind of talent is never a bad thing, but with established stars like Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford, it might take some time to incorporate that talent into their new roles.
“Well, it’s great because everybody wants to buy in,” Crawford said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “There’s no bad apples in the bunch. Everybody wants to figure it out. We’re all playing with no agendas, just (trying) to win (and) win big. That’s our goal. Everybody’s bought into that, so I have no doubt that we’ll be successful and we’ll continue to pull each other the rest of the way.”
The Clippers hope to atone for last season. They had a 3-1 lead on the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference semis before losing the final three games of the series – by a combined 46 points.
“I think we took our foot off the gas,” Crawford said. “Like Doc said, San Antonio had our full attention, but once we played Houston and got up 3-1, we kind of took our foot off the gas a little bit and it came back to bite us in the butt. We don’t want any more endings like that.”
Keeping Jordan in the fold was, without question, huge for Los Angeles. It appeared Jordan was destined for Dallas, but the Clippers found a way to retain the 27-year-old, who averaged 11.5 points, 15.0 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game last season.
How big was re-signing him?
“It was everything,” Crawford said. “DJ is one of the top-line centers in the NBA. Everything he does for you defensively, rebounding, how great of a teammate he is – he always keeps us motivated and inspired. He’s turned himself into a great leader, so we’re excited to have him back. He’s the guy we had to have back.”
The Clippers, who begin the 2015-16 season in Sacramento, will be one of the favorites in the Western Conference. Not bad for a franchise that used to be the Lakers’ little brother in Los Angeles.
“Yeah, it’s exciting – and not just fans in L.A.,” Crawford said. “Fans across the country are excited about our team. They’re excited about our culture that we’re building here. They’re excited about our future, especially the present. For us, we just have to bottle everything up, use that energy in a positive direction and continue to move forward. We know it won’t be easy, but we’re excited about our journey.”