They are the longest tenured Clippers remaining from this summer’s purge, so it’ll be up to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to steer this team towards a new frontier.
Griffin is entering his eighth season with the Clippers and Jordan his 10th, and as the Clippers’ veteran stars they must help ease the transition of the nine new players who have joined them in this quest to stay relevant in the super-tough Western Conference.
“It definitely starts with the core guys that we have who have been here the longest, and obviously that’s him and I,” Jordan said before the Clippers played their second exhibition game Tuesday night against the Toronto Raptors at the Stan Sheriff Center. “So we’ve got to set the tone and set an example of how we’re going to do things on and off the floor for this organization.”
There was a six-year period in which the Clippers had the big three of Griffin, Jordan and Chris Paul. But Paul forced a trade to the Houston Rockets over the summer.
Now the Clippers are just the big two of Griffin and Jordan.
“The roles absolutely changed out of necessity,” Griffin said. “Anytime you lose somebody like CP, everybody has to step up. I know DJ and I have talked about it all summer and we’re excited about that challenge.
“I think we have the majority of that load. But we also have some guys that are very talented and have a lot of experience. Lou (Williams) has been in the league for a long time now. Patrick (Beverley) played in big games, big moments. It’ll be collectively, but DJ and I will definitely have a bigger responsibility this year.”
Jordan is on course to make franchise history. His decade with the Clippers will give him the record for most seasons played for the organization, surpassing the nine by Eric Piatkowski.
“For me, I grew up in L.A.,” Jordan said. “I got here when I was a kid. I was 19 years old and 10 years later I’m still here and it’s an amazing feeling. It’s definitely a second home for me. Coming from Houston, it was great and living in L.A. has been amazing, especially growing up with these guys and seeing the franchise grow each and every year. It’s been great.”
Clippers guard Austin Rivers won’t play against the Raptors on Tuesday night because of a strained right glute muscle. Rivers was hurt in the first quarter of the first game Sunday night, but continued to play, making the injury worse.