It is one thing for the Clippers to embrace the high expectations that come with being considered one of the elite teams in the NBA.
It is quite another for the Clippers to live up to the hype of being among the top teams in the Western Conference, such as Oklahoma City and San Antonio.
So the goal for the Clippers will be to deliver on all the promise during the 82-game season.
“I’ve always said that I would rather be with a group that has high expectations than be with a group that doesn’t,” said new Clippers Coach Doc Rivers, one of the main reasons the team is viewed so highly by the NBA establishment.
“So, are we ready to embrace that? I don’t know yet. That’s what we’re going to go on this journey and find out. But I think we are.”
That journey for the Clippers will start when training camp opens Tuesday at UC San Diego.
The talent-rich Clippers gathered Monday for media day at their practice facility, hungry for an NBA championship and hungry to put behind the disappointment of a first-round playoff loss last season.
“For us, it’s going to be all about the process,” said point guard Chris Paul. “We can’t control what people say or the hype or the expectations or the good things people say or the bad things that people say.”
It’s what people see in the Clippers that has so many singing their praises.
The first thing was the Clippers’ luring Rivers from the Boston Celtics and making him their coach and senior vice president of basketball operations.
Then the Clippers re-signed Paul to a five-year, $107.3-million extension over the summer.
Forward Blake Griffin starts the first year of his five-year, $95-million extension.
There is even this hope that center DeAndre Jordan, who has two years and $22.4 million left on his four-year deal, finally will blossom under Rivers.
They acquired shooters J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley in a three-team trade.
The Clippers fortified their bench by keeping Jamal Crawford and Willie Green, re-signing Matt Barnes and Ryan Hollins, signing Antawn Jamison, Byron Mullens and Darren Collison, and drafting Reggie Bullock out of North Carolina.
“We have made some strides as a program, but we don’t have any championships,” Griffin said. “That’s the goal. That’s the bottom line. We haven’t really accomplished anything yet. Our whole goal is to accomplish that.
“So the expectations, we put those on ourselves as well and that’s the way it should be. We don’t feel like we’ve arrived or put ourselves into that category until we win a championship.”
Paul has another role to deal with this year; he was named president of the National Basketball Players’ Assn. over the summer.
“It’s going to take all of us players to really get the union back to where we’d like it at,” Paul said. "…We just want to try to continue to grow the game and make it as big and even bigger than it is right now.”
It wasn’t as if the Clippers had a bad 2012-13 season.
They won the franchise’s first Pacific Division title, had a franchise-best 56-26 record and a franchise-best 17-game winning streak.
It was just that they lost that first-round playoff series to Memphis, 4-2, after winning the first two games.
That led to Vinny Del Negro being let go as coach and to Rivers bringing his championship moxie — he led the Celtics to the 2008 NBA championship and lost to the Lakers in the 2010 Finals — to the Clippers.
Now, Rivers said he likes the idea of the Clippers being in the conversation as a title contender.
“It’s realistic for some and hopefully we’re in that some,” Rivers said. “And I believe that.”