Clippers thinking title not summer distraction

CULVER CITY-The loud hoopla about the summer saga around Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan has made some players weary about discussing the topic any further. To them, it’s a moot point. The focus now is on basketball, practice and preparing for a 2015-2016 season that they hope will result in possibly raising a championship banner in the house of Staples Center other than that purple and gold team across the way.

In case you have been living under a rock the last couple of months, the drama being dragged out throughout the summer and up to the Clippers media day, has focused on Jordan’s verbal commitment to the Dallas Mavericks before having a change of heart and re-signing with the Clippers.

Of course, what made the headlines was how Jordan re-signed with the Clippers. Coach Doc Rivers and a band of Jordan’s teammates, including Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, J.J. Redick and Paul Pierce, reportedly made it out to the center’s Houston home to convince him to come back to Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul listens to a question posed by a reporter during the team's media day. Photo credit:
Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul listens to a question posed by a reporter during the team’s media day. Photo credit:

“I thought it was more of a breakthrough for our team,” Rivers said. The food was good, so I guess that was a breakthrough. We really just talked about basketball for the most part. We talked about us as a group and how we can function better. It was really a basketball discussion.”

The roar that resulted from those turn of events can be somewhat justified considering Jordan is arguably the best defensive center in the NBA, and certainly its most athletic.

Not only that, Jordan is the third cog in the Clippers’ wheel, lining up besides Chris Paul And Blake Griffin to form the best three-punch power in the league. So it was vital the Clippers re-sign the talented 7-footer. That’s in the past, and it is clear from players speaking to reporters on the team’s media day that the Clippers want to focus on what’s in front of them now and what’s ahead.

What’s staring the Clippers in the face now is going through a rough and tough Western Conference that includes a re-stocked San Antonio Spurs team, an Oklahoma Thunder squad that has Kevin Durant back in the fold, and the Golden State Warriors, the NBA reigning champs. The Clippers have more serious business on their plate rather than worry about what could have happened.

Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers aim to improve on their second-place standing in the Western Conference Pacific Division. Photo Credit:

If, but and maybe somehow takes a  backseat to the certainty of facing Russell Westbrook, LaMarcus Alridge, James Harden, Steph Curry, Kobe Bryant, Zach Randolph and DeMarcus Cousins almost on a nightly basis. What happened in the summer, happened in the summer. Jordan has moved on. So have the Clippers.

Jordan said there is no extra motivation he takes going into this season other than helping the Clippers bring a title to Los Angeles.

“My motivation is only for us to win a championship,” Jordan said. “Anything else, I’m not concerned about, I’m not worried about. I’m concerned about the guys in the locker room that are there everyday. That’s all I can do.”

Winning a championship has been a stimulus for Jordan, Paul and Griffin since all three have been together. So far they’ve come up short in that conquest. But the offseason additions of Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, Lance Stephenson, give the Clippers the best best depth they have had under Rivers. Those three players, along with Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford, gives the Clippers more offensive firepower to work with.

After losing to Houston in the Western Conference semifinals after blowing a 3-1 series lead, it was clear the Clippers lacked the necessary punch to get them over the hump of Round 2 in the postseason, despite the fact they averaged 106.7 points per game during the 2014-15 NBA regular season.

“As a team, you learn. Doc is a great teacher in that. He talks about the process,” Paul said. “He talks everyday about getting better. There are things you do in training camp that defines you as a team… for us it’s about, like I said, if the team wants to build our team, our trust, making sure everybody in that locker room is on the same page, and ignore all that outside noise.”

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