Chris Paul

Pacific Rumors: Suns, Collison, Clippers

Suns GM Ryan McDonough says the club plans to make a big splash in free agency next summer, he said during a podcast with The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski and summarized by Petersen on the Suns’ website. Phoenix has approximately $59.6MM in salary guarantees next season, which gives it plenty of flexibility to pursue top free agents. “Potentially it’s a very strong free agent class next year,” McDonough told Wojnarowski. “One of the things we’ve done with our contracts is we’ve lined them up to have max cap space next year without really touching the core of our roster. I think and I hope at this time next year, we’re major players in free agency.”

In other developments around the Pacific Division:

  • Kings point guard Darren Collison‘s court case has been delayed until September 8, James Ham of CSNBayArea.com tweets. Collison faces allegations of domestic violence. The case was scheduled to be heard on August 18 after getting pushed back from an earlier date. Collison was arrested in May after local deputies responded to a report from a woman who said she was being assaulted inside a Northern California home. Collison could be facing a lengthy suspension from the league, depending upon the details that come out during the proceeding and the outcome of the case.
  • Elevating Earl Watson from interim coach to full-time head coach and adding two lottery picks are among the ways the Suns improved their state of their franchise this offseason, Matt Petersen of Suns.com writes. The addition of two highly-respected veterans, combo forward Jared Dudley and guard Leandro Barbosa, will impact the team not only on the court but in the locker room, Petersen adds.
  • Clippers perennial All-Star point guard Chris Paul likes what the team accomplished in free agency despite limited resources, according to Rowan Kavner of Clippers.com. The Clippers didn’t add a big-name free agent but retained its key free agents and made some under-the-radar signings, including Brandon Bass, Raymond Felton, Marreese Speights and Alan Anderson. “We definitely signed some veterans, some seasoned NBA guys who’ve been through a lot of different situations,” Paul told Kavner.

And-Ones: Salary Record, LeBron, CBA, D-League

The NBA’s record $24MM television deal is playing out just as predicted, writes Mitch Lawrence of Forbes. With LeBron James signing a three-year, $100MM deal with the Cavaliers, a record 17 teams now have the highest-paid players in franchise history on their current rosters. However, most of them are players who re-signed with their current teams or agreed to contract extensions. The only players who earned that distinction by changing teams this summer are Atlanta’s Dwight Howard, Boston’s Al Horford and Golden State’s Kevin Durant.

There’s more NBA-related news this afternoon:

  • Because James has a player option for the third season of his new contract, he can become a free agent in July of 2018, along with Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony, tweets Tommy Beer of Basketball Insiders. In March, James made headlines by speculating on the possibility of the four close friends one day joining forces.
  • A “super max” contract is among several changes the NBA and the players union should consider in a new collective bargaining agreement, suggests Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. That provision would allow for a contract that is 40% of the salary cap, but would only count as a normal maximum deal against the cap. It would be available only to a player who remains with his current team and it would not be tradeable. Kyler also would like to see a third round added to the draft to help teams stock their D-League affiliates, a two-way contract with different salaries when players are in the NBA and D-League, and minimum qualifications that players would have to meet before being eligible for maximum contracts.
  • The D-League will holds its national tryouts Sunday in Manhattan, tweets Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor. Among the players who received invitations are Sterling Gibbs of Connecticut, Jonathan Holton of West Virginia, Chris Obekpa of St John’s and Markus Kennedy of SMU (Twitter link).

Doc Rivers Talks Durant, CP3, Griffin, Roster

Clippers president and head coach Doc Rivers made an appearance this week on Adrian Wojnarowski’s podcast at The Vertical, and Rivers made several interesting comments about his team’s offseason and its future.

Notably, Rivers indicated that the Clippers were “in the top three at the very end” in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes, a statement which seems to be odds with reports that surfaced at the time. A Los Angeles Times story published two days before Durant announced his decision suggested that the Clippers had been informed they were out of the running. Based on Rivers’ comments, it’s possible the Clips found out they weren’t one of Durant’s top two choices and decided to move on and lock up other free agents rather than waiting for his final decision.

Rivers spoke more extensively about his club’s pursuit of Durant and touched on several other noteworthy topics, so let’s round up a few of the highlights, courtesy of RealGM.com:

On how the Clippers’ cap limitations affected their pursuit of Durant:

“We had to actually ask each guy to take a hit financially. We needed Kevin to take a hit this year to fit and next year we would have needed Blake [Griffin] and Chris [Paul] to take a hit financially. He didn’t have to do that if he stayed in Oklahoma. He didn’t have to do that if he went to Golden State. Plus they had room to build around that. I think at the end of the day, they looked at is as far as roster-wise, well, ‘The Clippers look great, we love who they are, but financially they are going to be so strapped, it’s going to be so hard to work, I think we’re going to go the safer place,’ and that was Golden State.”

On whether the Clippers will be able to lock up Griffin and Paul beyond 2017:

“It would be interesting if Steve Ballmer wasn’t the owner, I don’t know how confident I would be. With Steve, I’m extremely confident that we can keep both. You know, listen, winning is the key. The better we play on the floor, the better chance we have of not only keeping those guys but actually adding to our basketball team. That’s always the key factor in this. Quality of life is important, being comfortable, players getting along with the staff and each other. All that goes into it. But I think we’re in a good place there. I know both of them have said they want to play here. They want to play for us forever.”

On the Griffin trade rumors:

“It’s funny, you don’t want to go out and send out a press release every time there’s a rumor about Blake. We’re hoping Blake ends his career playing for the Clippers. Period. So when teams call, we say we have no interest.

“No team is calling right now because teams know we don’t have any interest.”

On the Clippers’ hole at small forward:

“We have a good core. The problem team-building with our core is we have three max players. I don’t think people understand that. I think since I’ve taken the job, even before then, we need a three, we need a three, we need a three. Yeah, we all know that but we also only have the minimum to try to go out and get a three. I think it’s been actually miraculous what we’ve done with just having minimum contracts.”

On the pros and cons of minimum-salary contracts:

“One thing I’ve learned with teams like ours, if you have a good team, you can convince guys to take the minimum. The problem is you’re going to keep losing guys. Every year we do it. Every single season we sign guys to the minimum and then we lose them to higher contracts. Cole Aldrich is the example from this year.”

Heat Notes: Green, James, Wade, Riley

The addition of James Johnson, Derrick Williams and Wayne Ellington left no room in Miami for Gerald Green, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Green, who agreed to terms with the Celtics this morning, spent one season in Miami and saw his playing time decline steadily as the year wore on. He appeared in 69 games, starting 14, and averaged 8.9 points per night. Green had expressed a desire to return to Miami, Winderman writes, and the Heat could have offered the same $1.4MM deal he received from Boston. Miami made it clear that the 30-year-old swingman wasn’t in its plans by signing Johnson, Williams and Ellington to be part of an already crowded rotation that includes Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Tyler JohnsonAmar’e Stoudemire and Dorell Wright are now the only remaining unsigned free agents from the 2015/16 roster.

There’s more news out of Miami:  

  • As players become more powerful, the idea of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul on the same team becomes more likely, Winderman writes in another piece. During the season, James speculated on the possibility of the four friends someday joining forces.
  • Team president Pat Riley recently offered some insight on teaming up James, Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010, Winderman relates in the same article. All three were slated to get max deals of $16.5MM per season, but they wanted to add Mike Miller and re-sign Udonis Haslem. Eventually, Wade volunteered to take less money, and James and Bosh agreed to sign-and trades. “The interesting part is on July 9th, they all agreed to come in on five-year deals, room only, so I didn’t have to give up any assets,” Riley said. “Then, at the 11th hour, they all wanted the sixth year. You know what that cost me and Andy [Elisburg, the Heat’s general manager]? That cost us four picks. I just said to them, ‘If you want the sixth year because I know you’re going to opt out after the fourth anyhow, but if you want the sixth year, I don’t want any of you to walk into my office and say, ‘Hey, can we get any young guys around here? Can we get some draft picks around here?’ Because they were gone.”
  • Riley’s decision to add more physical players this offseason was likely a matter of taking what was available on the market, rather than a strategy, Winderman writes in a separate piece. Winderman’s comment came in response to a reader’s question on whether acquiring Johnson, Williams, Luke Babbitt and Willie Reed would make the Heat more like the roster Riley had with the Knicks.

Clippers To Pitch “Big Four” Scenario To Durant

The Clippers will be one of the first teams to sit down with Kevin Durant on his free agent tour, with KD on track to meet with the Clippers and Warriors on Friday. And according to Dan Woike of The Orange County Register and Ramona Shelburne and Arash Markazi of ESPN.com, the Clippers will attempt to sell Durant on a scenario that would see him playing alongside Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan in Los Angeles, creating a “big four.”

[RELATED: Kevin Durant’s schedule for FA meetings]

It has long been assumed that, if they were to land Durant, the Clippers would have to jettison one of their top three players for cap purposes. However, Los Angeles is exploring scenarios that would allow the team to keep Paul, Griffin, and Jordan, while adding Durant. Per ESPN’s report, all three players have been invited to the Clips’ meeting with Durant in The Hamptons, which will be led by owner Steve Ballmer and coach Doc Rivers.

Selling Durant on such a scenario may not be easy, and it won’t be simple to actually execute either. Even if the Clippers were able to trade J.J. Redick, Paul Pierce, C.J. Wilcox, and the rights to Brice Johnson without taking any salary back, and renounced all their pending free agents, the team wouldn’t have enough cap room to offer Durant a maximum-salary contract. By my count, Durant would have to start at around $23.5MM in that scenario, and the Clippers would be left with only the $2.898MM room exception – and minimum-salary deals – to fill out their roster around their “big four.” A max salary for Durant is expected to start at approximately $26.6MM.

As the Clippers prepare their pitch to Durant, the Thunder’s brass is meeting with the former MVP today. However, since teams aren’t permitted to discuss contract parameters prior to July 1st, Oklahoma City is seeking a second meeting with Durant in The Hamptons next week, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein (Twitter links). Those contract discussions likely wouldn’t take long – there’s little doubt the Thunder would offer a full, five-year max – but a second meeting would allow the team to get the final word after Durant has heard pitches from all his other suitors.

And-Ones: Murray, Bogdanovic, Miller, Zipser

After being rated 16th among points guards in his high school class, Washington’s Dejounte Murray may be the third one taken in the NBA draft, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. Murray had a solo workout for the Suns on Friday, shortly after a session with the Jazz. He will also work out for the Bulls, Bucks and Pelicans before draft day arrives. “He’s not afraid to mix it up,” said Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough. “He’s not afraid of contact for a thin guy. He’s got a bright future. He’s probably one of the top point guard prospects in the draft.”

Here’s more news from around the NBA:

  • Phoenix is waiting for Bogdan Bogdanovic’s Turkish league playoffs to end before talking about his plans for next season, Coro reveals in the same piece. The Suns‘ 2014 first-round pick, Bogdanovic is in the league finals with Fenerbahce.
  • With Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook and James Harden announcing they won’t participate in the Olympics, USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo may add another point guard to the roster, writes Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press. Chris Paul and John Wall have already been ruled out because of injuries, so Team USA is left with Kyrie Irving, Mike Conley and Damian Lillard.
  • Quincy Miller, who played with three teams during his three-year NBA career, will sign with Maccabi Tel Aviv, according to Antonis Stroggylakis of Eurohoops. Miller will receive $2.6MM over two seasons with an opt-out clause for the NBA next summer. He won ABA League and Serbian championships this season with Crvena Zvezda. Miller was drafted by Denver in 2012 and spent his first two seasons with the Nuggets. His last NBA experience came in brief stints with the Kings and Pistons in 2014/15.
  • German star Paul Zipser had a standout performance at today’s adidas Eurocamp, according to Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress. The 6’8″ small forward has several private workouts scheduled with NBA teams and has a chance to be drafted late in the first round or early in the second round.

And-Ones: USA Basketball, Felder, Bentil, Draft

Following this morning’s report that Stephen Curry would skip the 2016 Olympics in Brazil for health reasons, the Warriors and Curry issued a statement confirming that decision. And, as ESPN’s Marc Stein tweets, Curry isn’t the only USA Basketball star who won’t be available this summer due to injury. Stein says that Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis, John Wall, and LaMarcus Aldridge, who is dealing with a recent finger/hand injury (Twitter link), also won’t be a part of Team USA’s roster.

As we wait to see which other players may drop out of the 2016 Olympics due to health or safety concerns, let’s round up some odds and ends from around the NBA…

  • Former Oakland University point guard Kay Felder is working out for the Lakers today, and has a workout with the Pistons lined up for next Wednesday, tweets Vincent Ellis of The Detroit Free Press.
  • Former Providence forward Ben Bentil will work out for the Magic this Friday after having worked out for the Hawks and Bulls, a source tells Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv (Twitter link).
  • Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon and Louisville’s Chinanu Onuaku are among the draft prospects whom Sam Vecenie of CBSSports.com views as potential second-round steals later this month. Vecenie also identifies three other players who fit that bill.
  • Former Michigan State forward Deyonta Davis has hired BDA Sports for representation, according to Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal (Twitter link). Hoops Rumors readers voted on Sunday to send Davis to Chicago with the 14th overall pick in our community mock draft.
  • In other player representation news, Serbian bigs Miroslav Raduljica and Ognjen Kuzmic have hired agent Chris Patrick of Relativity Sports for representation, per HoopsHype (Twitter link).

Doc Rivers Talks Offseason, Green, Stephenson

In a conversation with ESPN’s Zach Lowe, Clippers head coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers discussed a handful of interesting topics, including the Blake Griffin-Matias Testi incident, his relationship with Austin Rivers, and J.J. Redick‘s podcast.

Rivers also weighed in on some of the possible personnel decisions facing the Clippers, and addressed the impact of some decisions that he and the club have made in the past. Here are a few of the more notable quotes from Doc’s conversation with Lowe:

On whether he boxed the Clippers into a corner by saying the team won’t trade its top three players (Chris Paul, Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan):

“I don’t worry about the corner thing, ever. I’m always gonna do what’s good for the team. You don’t ever do anything but that. But I feel like the best thing for the team right now is to keep them together. Can that change? Of course it can change. But I don’t think it will.”

On whether Jeff Green will be the Clippers’ starting small forward in 2016/17:

“We gotta sign him first. … We don’t need a superstar [small forward]. We have superstars at other positions. We need guys who are complementary players. Jeff is terrific in that role.”

On Lance Stephenson and why he didn’t work out for the Clippers:

“He played great for Memphis. He wasn’t a great fit for us. Defensively — that’s where I was more disappointed, and shocked. I look at that body, and that athleticism, and I think: That’s a prototypical great defender. And he’s not that. … But I’ll tell you one thing — he’s not a bad kid. He gets cast as this malcontent bad kid, and Lance was never that. I thought he was funny. The guys liked him. But Lance wants to score every time he touches the ball, and he’s not that type of guy.”

On whether Rivers is concerned that the Clippers have given up too many draft picks:

“Yeah. I am. I think we had to because of the cap situation we inherited, but we’re starting to get some back. The best thing to happen to us is we get the Brooklyn pick at the start of the second round. That’s a big deal for us. So now, I think we have a chance to get healthy, get picks and keep building our team.”

Clippers Rumors: Griffin, Paul, Jordan, Crawford

Doc Rivers hinted before the season that he would consider breaking up the team’s core if it fell short in the playoffs again, and trade speculation has surrounded Griffin for much of the year, but Rivers seems to maintain belief in what Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan can do, writes Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com. The coach/executive said today that he doesn’t think the team’s window for title contention is closed, Markazi tweets.

“I like our team,” Rivers said after Friday’s season-ending loss to Portland. “Our bench was fantastic this year. The problem is we have a lot of free agents on our team and I think a lot of them are going to be attractive, and so we have to fight to keep our own first and then try to build from that point. We’re going to have a difficult time. It’s going to be tough.”

See more on the Clippers:

  • Rivers can’t envision any player in the league picking up his player option for next season, given the sharp escalation of the salary cap that’s poised to create a player-friendly market this summer, notes Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). Rivers confirmed that means he expects Cole Aldrich, Wesley Johnson and son Austin Rivers to opt out from the Clippers this summer, and the coach/executive also believes Paul and Griffin will opt out in the summer of 2017, Bolch relays (Twitter links).
  • Doc Rivers said today that he wants to re-sign as many of the team’s free soon-to-be free agents as possible this summer, according to Bolch (Twitter links). “They all want to come back, but they’ve all played well and so they’ve all made it more difficult,” Rivers said. Jeff Green, Jamal Crawford, Luc Mbah a Moute, Pablo Prigioni and Jeff Ayres are the Clippers on expiring contracts, and presumably the same sentiment applies to the trio with player options.
  • Crawford said after Friday’s game that he’d like to re-sign with the Clippers, tweets Jen Beyrle of The Oregonian. The 36-year-old Crawford and J.J. Redick, who turns 32 next month, both said on Redick’s podcast for The Vertical that they’d like to play five more years, and Redick would like to sign a four-year deal when his existing contract expires in the summer of 2017, as Markazi relays via Twitter.
  • Paul Pierce has one more year left in him, Rivers believes, according to Bolch (Twitter link). Pierce, 38, is signed through the 2017/18 season but is 50-50 on whether to retire this summer.
  • The creation of a Clippers D-League affiliate will be a matter of discussion this summer, Rivers said, cautioning that it remains uncertain whether a team will be in place in time for next season, tweets Rowan Kavner of Clippers.com. The Clips are reportedly exploring the idea of starting a D-League team in Bakersfield, California.

Clippers Notes: Pierce, Paul, Griffin

Paul Pierce said after the Clippers’ playoff exit Friday night that he didn’t want to make an emotional decision about his future and was 50-50 on whether he would return next season,  tweets Dan Woike of the Orange County Register. Pierce, 38,  is under contract for $3.5MM next year with a partially guaranteed salary the following year, as Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders points out (on Twitter).

Here’s more on the Clippers:

  • The idea that the Clippers need to break up Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin is exaggerated and the team instead needs to make wiser decisions on free agents and improve in player development, Amin Elhassan of ESPN.com argues in an Insider piece. There’s no way the Clippers would receive the same value in return if they were deal one of them, Andrew Han adds in the same piece.
  • If the Clippers must trade one, however, that player should be Paul because the star point guard will be 31 at the start of next season, Han writes.
  • It may be time to shake things up, considering Paul and Griffin have played together for five seasons and have yet to win a title, opines Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. Bresnahan suggests it may be worthwhile for the Clippers to make a deal with the Knicks and acquire Carmelo Anthony.

Get the hottest NBA news and rumors before anyone else! Follow us on Twitter to stay updated: