Here are some quick observations from Los Angeles Clippers Media Day today:
- There is an optimism surrounding the team that is unlike any other time I can remember. It's not just the talking points of the organization and the player's either. The media itself betrayed it's optimism regarding the club in the questions asked. After all, "Do you think you're a playoff team?" or "Will you be in the lottery again?" is essentially the same question, but it indicates a basic prejudice about the team one way or another. There was a very positive buzz at Media Day today.
- DeAndre Jordan was there, all smiles and energy. He's got about $43M reasons to smile today, but he'd probably have been smiling anyway. He truly loves playing basketball and being part of this team, and his teammates love him too.
- Neil Olshey relayed that Chauncey Billups would be in LA tomorrow; they were in the process of making the plane reservations.
- Both Neil and Coach Vinny Del Negro have spoken to Billups, and they seem to have no qualms whatsoever about the situation with Billups. The consensus is, Chauncey's a pro and he'll do his job, and we're putting him in a good situation. Neil pointed out something that I've mentioned before - NBA players aren't used to being told who to play for. At least not after they drafted. Sure they get traded, but even then they frequently have more input than Billups did in this amnesty auction. He's adjusting to his situation, and he'll be fine.
- Best tidbit of the day: you may have read that the Clippers winning bid on Billups was $2,000,032. Why an extra $32? Well, Andy Roeser considers it a lucky number for the team. I wonder why? An interesting image from the amnesty transaction is of Olshey, Del Negro and Roeser letting out near simultaneous shrieks of joy as the word popped up on their phones at 3 PM Monday that they'd won the Billups auction.
- Olshey is so smooth with the media, you sometimes gloss over the fact that some of what he says makes a lot of sense. One aspect of the current team he emphasized is that they have a lot of guys back (10), while the guys they've added are experienced vets (Caron Butler, Billups, even the addition of Mo Williams who's going through his first training camp with the team). Olshey said that Billups could probably coach the team, and that Butler knew the offense better than most of the team after being here for five minutes. It's rhetoric - but there's definitely something to it. With a shortened camp and many teams still building a roster, the Clippers could have an advantage over their early season opponents.
- Chris Kaman apparently got accidentally headbutted by Brian Cook in practice Monday afternoon. He's sporting a pretty significant black eye at this point. Combined with his off season beard, which is easily the biggest white guy beard in the league, and he looks like a pretty scary dude right now. And since today was Media Day, long after he has healed and shaved, we're going to be seeing this Kaman in promos and commercials (assuming he remains with the team).