After Chris Paul's stunning departure to the Houston Rockets, the Los Angeles Clippers refocused their efforts on replacing both his productivity and leadership.
The Clippers' acquisition of Danilo Gallinari is a step in the right direction.
Gallinari, sitting alongside executive vice president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank and coach Doc Rivers, was formally introduced at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas on Saturday afternoon. The 6-foot-10 forward, who was acquired in a sign-and-trade with the Denver Nuggets, expressed his excitement to play in a system that will highlight his versatility on both ends of the floor.
"One of the reasons I chose L.A. is because of the team that we have," he said. "So I have no doubt that I'm gonna fit in. And like Doc said, I'm very versatile so I can fit into different systems. The excitement I have to play for Doc and this team is great and I think that I will fit in wherever."
With the Western Conference now more loaded than ever before, there were no illusions that Gallinari is the piece that will put the Clippers on par with the champion Golden State Warriors.
But, as the NBA evolves, Frank noted that being able to play positionless basketball is critical to any team's ability to succeed in the league. The versatility that Gallinari adds to the Clippers will make it easier for Blake Griffin and De'Andre Jordan in the post, while also opening up a variety of pick-and-roll options for players across the roster.
Though the Warriors' looming dynasty sits in the back of every NBA executive's mind, both Rivers and Frank said that their focus was on trying to continue bolstering their own roster, rather than agonizing over how to beat Golden State.
"From our standpoint, we're just trying to make us better and worry about us. A lot of teams make mistakes when they try to match up to the Warriors, or how the Warriors play," Rivers said. "I don't think anyone is gonna beat the Warriors playing the way the Warriors play. I think that the way to do it is to build your team the best way you think you can."
The Clippers' road to their elusive Western Conference finals appearance isn't any easier with stars like Jimmy Butler and Paul George now playing in the Western Conference. Regardless, Frank stressed that franchises have to be continuously looking for ways to distance themselves from the pack.
The addition of Gallinari is a sign that at the very least, the Clippers are trying.
"As we know, the league is a little bit copycatish, if that's a word, and sometimes those trends change," he said. And I think you want to be at the forefront of it, versus always chasing someone who's ahead of you."