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The former college rivals have both signed multi-year deals in Los Angeles.
From right, Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul, Ryan Hollins, Jared Dudley and Darren Collison talk to reporters as the Clippers announce updates and additions to the roster in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
LOS ANGELES - J.J. Redick and Chris Paul are now on the same basketball team, something neither would have imagined back when Redick played for Duke and Paul was at Wake Forest.
Don't expect them to see eye to eye when the topic of the Atlantic Coast Conference comes up now, but college basketball is now way in both players' past. Their focus now is one in the same - to get the Los Angeles Clippers in position to win an NBA championship.
Paul and Redick appeared together for the first time as Clippers teammates on Wednesday - along with Matt Barnes and Ryan Hollins, who both re-signed, along with newly acquired Darren Collison, Jared Dudley, and new coach and senior vice president of basketball operations Doc Rivers at the team's training complex.
Paul, who re-upped with the Clippers by signing a five-year deal worth nearly $108 million on Tuesday night when the league's moratorium lifted, was the star of Wednesday's news conference, but he told the team he wanted to talk about it with the rest of the team's free agent signees.
Paul didn't want the spotlight to himself because he said, "There's no one person who is more important on the team."
Paul described the scene as "one of the biggest days in franchise history. We all wanted to do it together. It shows what we're trying to do here."
Redick, a Cave Spring High graduate who spent the first six and a half years of his NBA career with the Orlando Magic before being traded at midseason to Milwauke, came to L.A. via a sign-and-trade with the Bucks in a $27 million, four-year deal.
"We just complement everybody who is already here," Redick said. "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Doc. He kind of targeted me. Having Chris here was a huge part of me coming here."
Those words about Paul may not have come out of Redick's mouth a few years back. The rivalries between Duke, Wake, as well as with North Carolina and North Carolina State, can be fierce.
"There was animosity there for a number of years," said Redick, who will be wearing No. 4 for the first time since he was national college player of the year at Duke.
Paul added, "I'm so happy we're on the same team and I don't have to chase him."
While everyone at the news conference was smiling, perhaps the happiest person in the room was Rivers, who left the Boston Celtics during the offseason and has played a major role in getting all the pieces to his team gathered together.
"This is a great day for all of us," Rivers said. "I've done a lot of begging over the last week or two, and now I can do some coaching."
Barnes signed an $11 million, three-year deal.
"We're loaded at every position," he said. "Who doesn't want to play with Chris? He's arguably the best point guard in the game. It just shows this organization has come a long way. They're making the right moves."
Keeping Paul in a Clippers uniform was the team's No. 1 goal. And he didn't seriously consider going anywhere else.
"It was an easy decision for me. There was no need to put any of that added stress on anybody, especially my family," he said. "My wife wasn't sure if she'd have to pull the kids out of school. Lil' Chris didn't want to leave his friends. He said, 'It doesn't rain here,' and he likes it because he can go swimming."
Paul pointed out that he's been quick to commit in the past. In high school, he made his official visit to Wake Forest and committed, eschewing other visits.
"It was important," Rivers said of Paul's decisiveness. "It told everyone else he really wants to be here. He didn't want to be on the parade route to other cities."
Paul is eager to atone for last season's playoff disappointment, when the Clippers lost to Memphis in the first round after winning 56 games and the Pacific Division.
"I feel like this was unfinished business. Me and Blake [Griffin] have talked this offseason about what we can build," he said.
Rivers' presence has got Paul's attention, too.
"It's been unreal how he's excited and motivated me again," he said. "I feel like a rookie again."
Former UCLA players Barnes, Hollins and Collison are on the same team, with Collison set to be Paul's backup. Collison and Paul were teammates in New Orleans in 2009-10, Collison's rookie year.
"I came here to win a championship," said Collison, set to begin his fifth season in the league.
Like Barnes and Redick, Collison took less money to join a franchise that started to shed its losing ways the last two years. He is set to earn $1.9 million next season, with an opt-out clause.
"To land him in a backup role is huge," Hollins said. "He's such a selfless player."
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