Chauncey Billups didn’t want to be picked up by anyone off waivers, let alone a team like the Los Angeles Clippers who were mired in a long funk instead of contending for an NBA title. That was then; this is now.
The Clippers head into tonight’s battle with Lakers atop the division and Billups appears to have fit right in with young superstars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul as well as Caron Butler and a slew of other young talent. As Billups explains in the following interview, it’s certainly not what he thought he was getting himself into, but it’s worked out just fine.
Chauncey Billups joined Fox Sports Radio with Petros and Money to discuss what’s different about the Clippers this year, his initial reaction to being picked up off waivers, his reaction to the team trading for Chris Paul, the confidence of the team right now, who he would have played for if he hadn’t been picked up and being the team’s veteran leader.
You’ve seen the Clippers struggle when playing against them. What’s different about the organization now that you’re playing for it?:
“If you look at the moves that they’ve made, they’re making a conscious effort to be for real and to able to contend. You look at them one, bringing in Caron, matching on the young fellow D.J. and bringing Chris Paul in and having the situation where they could bring me in. You just look at it and say, ‘It’s not the Clippers of old.’”
What was your initial reaction when the Clippers picked you up off waivers?:
“Initially I was disappointed because I wanted to have the decision to be made coming from me, if I wanted to come to the Clippers. I wanted to be in a position where I didn’t want to go to a rebuilding team and is not that committed to winning. The Clippers, traditionally, was one of the teams that I was talking about. Coming here and sitting down … and seeing the moves they’ve made and the pieces that, of course, we have now, I found out that was not the case.”
What was your thinking when they made the trade for Chris Paul?:
“That was really good for me. Obviously we are the same position and we’ve battled and been in the trenches against each other most of the time. But he’s always been a really good friend of mine and so I was just kind of like, wow, what are we going to do now, knowing that Chris is one of the best young guys in the league right now and we was really just going to have to play with each other.”
How confident is this team right now?:
“I think that, at this point, we feel like if we’re locked in and doing the things that we talk about, we have the chance to win every night. Obviously we’ve got some young guys and it doesn’t just happen like that. … But we have a lot of talent. We have a ways to go in that department, but we’re going to have a chance all the time.”
If you had not been claimed off waivers were you thinking about playing with the Lakers?:
“Sure. If you look at the criteria that I talked about earlier, of course, they fit that criteria. It was really probably going to come down to the Lakers and Miami, were the only two teams I thought that I could fit in, still be in my regular role … and those teams have the vision that I have.”
Do you feel like it’s your responsibility to install a winning culture with the Clippers?:
“I don’t know if it’s my responsibility, but it’s something that I’ve always done. I’ve always loved teaching, not really necessarily coaching, but teaching. I think that it’s something that I will do and I do do by nature. I don’t wake up saying, ‘I’ve got to tell them this today,’ but it’s something when I see something, my nature is going to take over and my instinct is going to take over and it’s just what I do.”