The Clippers hosted a press conference today to introduce their first round draft picks, Al-Farouq Aminu and Eric Bledsoe. These affairs tend to be pretty cookie cutter, and this was no exception. You can rest assured that both Aminu and Bledsoe are "just happy to be here" since they must have said that about 20 times each.
Andy Roeser and Neil Olshey are also happy - they re-iterated much of what they said on draft night. These are the guys they wanted, and they got them.
AFA was asked what was going through his head during the draft and he said that when the Pistons didn't draft him he was excited, because he knew he would be going to the Clippers which is what he wanted. So that's refreshing. Asked to follow up, he displayed a refeshing bit of honesty and self-awareness. Along with the requisite compliments to the people in the organization he had previously visited with and a shout out to the practice facility, he said "I started looking at the roster and saw how I could fit it in." In other words, he knew he'd get a chance to play right away in LA, which wasn't assured in Detroit with Prince and Daye and Hamilton around.
The gaffe of the press conference came from Bledsoe when he was asked what he admired about Baron Davis. "I like Baron's toughness. He goes out and competes every night, even though he's getting old." Oooops. It's possible that Boom Dizzle might bring a little something extra into his first head to head practice with the rookie. Then again, as one scribe quipped, "Anything that will motivate Baron is a good thing."
The video of the press conference will be posted at Clippers.com in the near future I'm sure, so you can check it out in it's entirety if you're so inclined.
The get together was also another chance to ask questions of Olshey and Roeser. I asked Neil if they went into this draft with the express intent of getting longer (AFA 6'8.5" tall, 7'3.25" wingspan, Bledsoe 6'1.5", 6'7.5" wingspan, summer league signee Marqus Blakely, 6'5" tall, 7'1" wingspan). Just like the rest of us, he watched the Lakers and the Celtics in the Finals. He saw Rajon Rondo's disruptive play all over the court, he saw the length of the Lakers contest every pass and every shot. Wingspan helps NBA players cover ground, and he thinks the team can be a significantly improved defensive squad with this added length.
He was asked if he felt compelled to push further into the free agency game as other teams were clearing additional space to make multiple free agency offers - did he feel like they add to make another move to free up more space as well. His answer was a simple no. "I think you can put up our roster with any other team competing for free agents." In that sense, the Clippers have actually differentiated themselves from many of the other teams - they're the team that is most complete, where one marquee guy just slots in on his own, without having to worry about sharing the spotlight. Every other team has more moving pieces than LA. Is that a good thing? Maybe not. But it's not necessarily bad to have some differentiation in a crowded field. Asked if they were planning any meals cooked by celebrity chefs or star-studded galas to lure free agents, the answer was again no. "The practice facility, the city of Los Angeles, the roster... that's our pitch."
In a housekeeping note, the Clippers' Summer League roster now includes shooting guard Jeremy Richardson who has had brief stays with several NBA teams, most notably the Hawks, and point guard Dashaun Wood who played college ball at Wright State. This is in addition to the draft picks, DeAndre Jordan, Marqus Blakely, Trey Johnson and Rod Benson.