Clippers to play preseason game in Seattle vs. Trail Blazers

Two long-time friends checked the calendar earlier this year, trying to figure out how to hang out during busy work hours that rarely left them in the same place.

Then Clippers coach Tyronn Lue and his Portland counterpart Chauncey Billups found a solution.

Excursion.

The result is an Oct. 3 preseason game between the Clippers and Trail Blazers at Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena, a matchup that will be officially announced Wednesday in Seattle. The game will cap off a week of preseason travel for the Clippers, who plan to kick off their upcoming 2022-23 season in Los Angeles with media day on September 26 before heading to Las Vegas and opening training camp the next day.

Both teams are affiliated with Seattle through their ownership groups. Steve Ballmer, the owner of the Clippers, lives nearby. Jody Allen, chairwoman of the Trail Blazers, has managed the NFL’s Seahawks since the death of her brother Paul Allen in 2018. However, Lue said the preseason goal came from a conversation he had with Billups, who first met when they were teenagers at a basketball tournament and have been closely linked for three decades.

“Me and Chaunce have been talking about just being able to spend more time as best friends,” Lue said. “We were talking about Vegas and then I was like yeah I live in Vegas so this is perfect.

“And then he said, ‘Well, what about Seattle? Because it’s close for us and both of our owners are there.’ I thought that’s cool too, because I haven’t been to Seattle in a while.”

From there, the two worked out the idea within their respective organizations, with Lue Lawrence asking Frank, the Clippers’ top basketball executive, and Gillian Zucker, the top general manager. Spending the entire training camp together was ultimately not feasible, but a preparatory game was.

During their NBA careers, Billups and Lue often trained together during the off-season. Billups has cited strategy sessions hosted by Lue in the early weeks of 2020’s COVID-19 stay-at-home orders as central to his interest in coaching. When Lue was promoted to the Clippers head coach in 2020, he hired Billups as his assistant and then campaigned for his hiring at Portland ahead of last season.

It’s the 10th year in a row that the Clippers have been on road training camp after stints in San Diego, Irvine, Las Vegas and Hawaii. Coming back to Las Vegas in late September to begin training camp — the team is trying to schedule another preseason game there as well — Lue said he’d love to host Clippers players at his home off-season for a having casual opportunity to stay away from basketball.

But ahead of a season where the team expects to be in contention behind a healthy Kawhi Leonard returning from knee surgery and Paul George for his first NBA title, Lue wants to use camp to establish early on what he’ll be ” main message” called .”

While potential is one thing, “we have to prove it,” he said.

“I know Kawhi and PG are coming back this year, we have a really good team,” said Lue. “But that doesn’t mean you’re going to win. We gotta put the work in. We must be willing to work. That’s the main focus. Don’t think because Kawhi and PG and these guys step on the floor that we’ll automatically win a championship or go to the finals or whatever.

“We have to put the work into it… and that starts from the front office, to the coaching staff, to the players. I also told our coaches we have to give everything we can and if you do that then you can live with the results.

Seattle last hosted an NBA preseason game at KeyArena, the Sonics’ longtime home, in 2018 before the franchise relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008 after the team was sold. Since that 2018 preseason match between Golden State and Sacramento, the arena has undergone a $1.15 billion renovation to become the home of WNBA’s Storm and NHL’s Kraken, which have retained their signature roof while adding a new arena underneath with a capacity of up to 18,100. The redevelopment was spearheaded by the Oak View Group, whose co-founder Tim Leiweke helped open the former Staples Center in 1999 as a longtime leader of the Anschutz Entertainment Group.

Entering this new environment will be two friends who essentially started their preseason meeting.

“We can be there for a few days,” Lue said, “and at least hang out and see each other.”

https://www.latimes.com/sports/clippers/story/2022-06-29/los-angeles-clippers-preseason-game-in-seattle-vs-trail-blazers Clippers to play preseason game in Seattle vs. Trail Blazers

Emma Bowman

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