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Chris Paul

Clippers Notes: Durant, Jordan, Anderson

Kevin Durant said Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul “made it tough” to turn down the Clippers in free agency, as Anthony Slater of The Bay Area News Group passes along.

 “Those guys are tremendous, unbelievable talents,” Durant said. “DJ is a close friend. CP, been knowing him since I was in high school…All that other stuff [doesn’t matter]. I’ve been in L.A. every summer. Facilities, all that stuff is the same to me. As long as you have a court and the ball. The players, that’s what made it tough. They did a great job.”

Here’s more from Los Angeles:

  • Durant met Jordan years ago when he served as the center’s host for a recruiting visit at the University of Texas and the two remain close despite him choosing to play for a rival, Slater relays in the same piece. “He wanted me to come to the Clippers, but he’s going to be my friend no matter what,” Durant said.
  • Durant’s decision to join the Warriors created backlash, which is something Jordan knows well from his own free agency during the previous summer, Slater notes in the same piece. “I think that’s what we kind of had in common,” Durant said. “Him making [the decision to turn down the Mavericks] was bold, it was a tough decision, it made him uncomfortable, but it grew him as a person and as a basketball player. I felt the same way about my decision. It made conversation. It made us get to know each other better and having things in common as far as work related. It helped having someone that could relate to what I went through.”
  • Alan Anderson, who signed a one-year, minimum salary deal with the Clippers over the summer, is fitting in with the team despite not receiving the minutes that he’s accustomed to seeing, Rowan Kavner of NBA.com writes. “[Anderson] wants to play, like everyone else, but if you had to vote for the MVP teammate, I think he wins hands down,” coach Doc Rivers said. “He’s gone through that frustration of trying to train and not play, yet if you watched our bench during the games, you would never know it.”

Clippers Rumors: Paul, Griffin, Trade Options

The Clippers expect Chris Paul to demand a full five-year, maximum salary contract when he becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2017, league sources tell ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe. Paul has an option for the 2017/18 season, but given the rising salary cap, he’s expected to opt out – along with Blake Griffin – to secure a more lucrative deal.

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement could have an impact on what Paul’s next contract might look like, but under the current CBA, he’d be eligible for a starting salary of around $33.5MM, based on the current cap projections for next year. At that rate, a full maximum salary deal for five years would be worth in excess of $190MM. That would be a huge investment for the Clippers to make in a point guard who will be 32 next summer, and it remains to be seen how negotiations will play out between the two sides. But as Lowe observes, owner Steve Ballmer has indicated he’s willing to spend what it takes to keep the team together.

Here’s more from Lowe on the Clippers:

  • While Lowe doesn’t cite any sources when he discusses Griffin’s situation, he suggests that maxing out the star power forward would be a “no-brainer” for the Clippers next summer. As the ESPN scribe notes, Doc Rivers has no interest in engaging in a rebuild, and the franchise isn’t well-positioned for one, so expect L.A. to do everything it can to keep its core pieces and remain in contention.
  • The Clippers are almost out of trade assets, but they could conceivably package Jamal Crawford and a future first-round pick for an upgrade on the wing, says Lowe. Still, he notes that the team loves Crawford and quality wings “don’t come cheap.”
  • The Clippers currently have two future first-rounders committed to other teams in trades, but they have some flexibility to move another one, despite the Ted Stepien rule. As Lowe explains, the NBA quietly made a change its trade rules this past summer — teams are now allowed to simultaneously owe two separate first-round picks with “two years after” language attached, rather than just one. The Clips are currently set to send the Celtics a first-round pick two years after they send one to the Raptors, and could agree to trade another first-rounder that would change hands two years after that pick is sent to Boston.

Paul: Relationship With Griffin “Better Now Than Ever”

Clippers teammates Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are on track to be two of the top free agents on the market in 2017, but based on how things look right now, there’s no reason that they’d want to leave Los Angeles. After beating the Raptors on Monday night, the Clippers have a league-best 13-2 record, and Paul tells Sam Amick of USA Today that his relationship with Griffin is in a great place.

“Oh, no question (it’s) better now than ever,” Paul told Amick. “Like I’m saying, we both have matured so much, and our communication is amazing right now, so sometimes it takes time. That’s what (happened) with me and BG, and there’s nothing like it right now. We are having some of the most fun that we’ve had in our time together.”

As Amick details, Paul and Griffin have been able to bond over shared experiences, ranging from both having two young children to both being sidelined by injuries during the team’s playoff series against the Trail Blazers last spring. Griffin pointed to some of the team’s postseason disappointments in past seasons as a reason why he and Paul and the Clippers are appreciating their success so far this season.

“Year to year you go through those ups and downs,” Griffin said. “A lot of heartbreak in the playoffs, obviously, well documented, well talked-about everything that we’ve gone through. And some of it has been, for lack of a better word, back luck. Injuries here or there. Some of it has been our own fault, but I think you go through a year like last year, where CP and I both get hurt, and you’re not even really 100 percent to start with, and you cherish these moments, you cherish being a good team. Whether people want to admit it or not, we’re a solid team.”

It will be worth watching Paul, Griffin, and the Clippers this year, since perhaps a turn in the club’s fortunes or another early playoff exit would prompt one or both of them to consider another team in free agency. For now though, all indications are that neither player wants out of the partnership, and that the Clippers are confident about keeping the duo together for the long term.

Pacific Notes: Bazemore, Kings, Clippers, Len

Hawks small forward Kent Bazemore rejected the Lakers’ four-year, $72MM contract offer this summer in part because the Lakers declined his $1.1MM qualifying offer in 2014, Mark Medina of the Orange County Register reports. Bazemore re-signed with the Hawks on a four-year, $70MM deal. After the Lakers sent him packing two years ago, he agreed to a two-year, $6MM contract with Atlanta, then emerged as a starter last season. “One thing you want in this league is to be wanted. They didn’t pick it up for that little amount of money,” Bazemore told Medina. “So that showed how much they believed in me and my abilities. That closed that chapter.”

In other developments regarding the Pacific Division:

  • The Kings have become a two-man show offensively, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee notes. DeMarcus Cousins is averaging 26.8 points and Rudy Gay is scoring at a 23.8 clip. Arron Afflalo is the next highest at 9.4, though the Kings tried to get him the ball more often in their last game. “Those are our two main guys,” Affalo told Jones. “That’s the way it’s set up right now for those guys to establish themselves on the offensive end. Guys have got to figure out how to pick their spots.”
  • The Clippers have been surprisingly inefficient in the early going offensively and Chris Paul says the starting unit is to blame, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports. The Clippers rank 24th in field-goal percentage and have only exceeded 41% once in four games. “In actuality, our second unit offense has been really good,” the All-Star point guard told Turner. “Our [first] unit, the one that’s usually clicking on all cylinders, I know that that can be fixed. So that’s why I’m optimistic. I’m actually more excited about our defense and how well we’ve been playing defense.”
  • Suns center Alex Len is setting up in the low post more often and that decision is paying dividends, Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic notes. Len had 18 points in 21 minutes off the bench against the Trail Blazers, mainly by staying in the paint. “Alex Len perfected simplicities of the game,” coach Earl Watson told Coro. “He kept it simple, and his numbers were better.”

Pacific Notes: Goodwin, Jones, Clippers, D’Antoni

Former Suns guard Archie Goodwin cleared waivers today at 5 pm Eastern time and is now officially a free agent. Phoenix released Goodwin on Monday after being unable to deal him to another team. The 22-year-old out of Kentucky spent three seasons with the Suns. He appeared in 57 games last season, averaging 8.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per night.

There’s more news out of the Pacific Division:

  • Derrick Jones overcame long odds to earn a spot on the Suns‘ roster, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. The 19-year-old wasn’t taken in the draft after being ruled ineligible at UNLV, then missed all of summer league with an injury. Jones signed a four-year contract that could be worth up to $3.6MM, but all he is guaranteed for now is $42.5K of his $543,471 salary. Still, he is elated about the opportunity. “When I was the last one here from training camp, I knew there was a reason I am here,” Jones said. “I feel as though I’m a NBA player. I have NBA athleticism. My game is going to come a long way. I just got to be able to knock down my jump shots consistently. That’s one thing I’m going to put in work to do.”
  • The Clippers understand they may be facing their final season with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, relays Dan Woike of The Orange County Register. Both are expected to opt out next summer and become free agents. With J.J. Redick also headed toward free agency and L.A. well over the salary cap, it will create a serious financial strain to keep the current core together. “We’re not really worried about what happens after this season. We’re worried about what happens in the season,” Griffin said. “Every year, if you don’t have a sense of urgency, if it takes somebody being like ‘This could be the last year to have a sense of urgency,’ then you’re already kind of playing from behind. I don’t think it really affects us.”
  • New Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni thought his career might be over when he left the Lakers in 2014, writes Bill Oram of The Orange Country Register. Not only did that team underachieve, but D’Antoni spent much of the season fighting with Kobe Bryant. D’Antoni revived his career as an assistant with the Sixers last season before being hired by Houston over the summer. “It’s a privilege to be able to coach in this league,” D’Antoni said. “It’s very rare you can dictate where you want to go, and usually where you’re going they have problems or you wouldn’t be going there. You just try to find the right situation, and if it’s not the right situation, try to make it work. If it doesn’t work out, try to live to fight a battle someplace else. It was a privilege to coach the Lakers. It was a privilege to coach Kobe and those guys. I’m better for it.”

Community Shootaround: Potential CBA Changes

Following the Clippers’ game in Sacramento on Tuesday night, NBPA president Chris Paul caught a flight to New York to participate in Wednesday’s meeting between the league and the players’ union, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein (via Twitter). The sitdown was the latest indication that the two sides are making progress on negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

There’s plenty of optimism that the NBA and NBPA will strike a deal well before the opt-out deadline of December 15, and while we don’t know exactly what changes will be made to the CBA, we’ve gotten some hints. We’re not expecting any massive, game-changing alterations to the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, but it seems as if plenty of smaller changes will be implemented to attempt to improve the game.

The league’s rookie scale system is expected to be adjusted so that it aligns more with salary cap increases, rather than increasing at a fixed rate. Veteran contract extensions are expected to be tweaked to make them more appealing to players, giving teams a better chance to lock up potential free agents before they reach the open market. The NBA’s draft and D-League are among the other areas expected to receive attention in CBA talks.

As Howard Beck details in a piece this week at Bleacher Report, the NBA also hopes to include a mechanism in the new CBA to prevent another massive spike in the salary cap, since this year’s $24MM+ increase was viewed as problematic. According to Beck, some team executive believe a new CBA might also adjust the maximum salary concept, making it a little harder for clubs to collect multiple superstars.

For today’s Community Shootaround, we’re asking this: What one change would you like to see the NBA and NBPA make to the CBA? Do you consider it crucial to address one of the areas mentioned above, or is there another are you believe the two sides should be focused on?

Weigh in below in the comments section with your thoughts on the subject, and feel free to get creative in your answers. Got an off-the-wall idea for NBA draft lottery reform or a new-look salary cap? Share it below, even if it’s unlikely to be implemented in the next CBA.

NBA GMs Weigh In On 2016/17 Season

NBA.com has completed its annual survey of NBA general managers, asking each of the league’s 30 GMs an array of questions about the league’s top teams, players, and coaches. As John Schuhmann of NBA.com details in his piece announcing the results, it comes as little surprise that NBA GMs are just as bullish on the Cavaliers‘ and Warriors‘ chances in 2016/17 as the rest of us are — those are the only two teams GMs predicted to become this season’s NBA champion, with Golden State getting 69% of the vote and Cleveland getting 31%.

While there are many responses in the GM survey worth checking out, we’ll focus on rounding up some of the more interesting ones related to rosters and player movement. Let’s dive in…

  • LeBron James led the way in votes for 2016/17’s MVP award, but Karl-Anthony Towns was the clear choice for the player most GMs would want to start a franchise with today.
  • The Warriors were the only team to receive more than two votes for which team made the best offseason moves — Golden State was the runaway winner at 83.3%, largely due to the signing of Kevin Durant. The addition of Durant was easily voted the move most likely to make the biggest impact this season, and it was also viewed as the most surprising move of the summer, just ahead of Dwyane Wade joining the Bulls.
  • The Jazz‘s trade for George Hill received at least one vote for the move likely to have the biggest impact, and it was the winner for the most underrated player acquisition of the offseason.
  • Dejounte Murray (Spurs), Kris Dunn (Timberwolves), and Patrick McCaw (Warriors) were considered the biggest steals of the draft by GMs, who voted Milos Teodosic and Sergio Llull as the top international players not currently in the NBA.
  • NBA general managers view Tom Thibodeau as the new coach most likely to make an immediate positive impact on his new team, and think Chris Paul is the player most likely to become a future NBA head coach.
  • The rules that GMs wants to see changed or modified include the draft lottery system, the number of timeouts per game, and intentional fouling.

Pacific Notes: Paul, Walton, Chriss, Ranadive

The Clippers aren’t worried about a sprained left thumb that Chris Paul suffered Saturday in practice, according to Dan Woike of The Orange County Register. The All-Star point guard stood on the sidelines as the team practiced today, but his availability for the season opener isn’t in doubt. Paul has been listed as “day-to-day,” and coach Doc Rivers explained that he sat out practice as a precaution. “He’ll play in definitely one of the two [remaining preseason games], and that tells you it’s not that serious,” Rivers said.

There’s more news out of the Pacific Division:

  • Warriors head coach Steve Kerr believes the Lakers are the only team that could have tempted Luke Walton to leave Golden State, writes Joey Ramirez of NBA.com. Walton spent two years on the Warriors’ bench and served as Kerr’s lead assistant last season. He accepted a five-year deal in May to take over in Los Angeles, where he spent the first eight seasons of his playing career. “He’s such a great guy,” Kerr said. “He’s become one of my best friends. We’re all gonna miss him, but we’re all happy for him. I know he wouldn’t have taken any other job but the Laker job to leave Golden State.” 
  • Marquese Chriss may be a 19-year-old rookie, but he is impressing his Suns teammates by standing up to veterans in preseason games, relays Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. His latest skirmish was with Mavericks’ center Andrew Bogut on Friday night. “’Quese has to show that he ain’t scared,”  said Eric Bledsoe. “Once one of those players or a veteran player feels like he got fear in you, as a young player, it will ride you for the rest of your career. ‘Quese is setting the tone early.”
  • Kings owner Vivek Ranadive has apologized to former executive Geoff Petrie for slighting his contributions to the organization in a recent interview, writes Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. The apology was prompted by Petrie’s angry response after reading the two-part piece in USA Today. Voisin accuses both parties of engaging in revisionist history and contends the whole incident was unnecessary.

Western Notes: Powell, Hairston, Payne

Mavs big man Dwight Powell, who inked a four-year, $37MM deal to remain in Dallas this offseason, will be counted on to play center more this season as well as to expand his shooting range to help stretch defenses, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News writes. “The 3-point shot is a natural progression,” coach Rick Carlisle said regarding his expectations for Powell. “We’ve worked extremely hard with him on it. And exhibition season is a great opportunity to [work on it]. He’s a two-position player who gives us flexibility because he can switch and move his feet and stay in front of little guys, too. He’s a player at four and five that is starting to really define our game, the ability to play big and small, to some degree.” The 25-year-old is a career 18.5% shooter from beyond the arc, connecting on just 5 of his 27 attempts.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • The Rocketsdeal with P.J. Hairston is non-guaranteed and will pay him $980,431 for 2016/17, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders relays (via Twitter).
  • Thunder coach Billy Donovan is taking a positive approach to Cameron Payne‘s broken foot that will keep him out of action indefinitely, believing that the missed time won’t necessarily impede the second year player’s development, Erik Horne of The Oklahoman writes. “I think any player, when they get back, it’s just getting into that rhythm of being able to play and that comfort and getting back in shape,” Donovan said. “So, I think once he gets back to that point — then I think that there may be this opportunity for him — sitting out could be the best thing for his growth. Sometimes, you get a chance to grow when you’re not playing.
  • With Chris Paul and Blake Griffin able to opt out of their deals and become unrestricted free agents next summer, the Clippers will have some decisions to make regarding their futures in Los Angeles. Based on owner Steve Ballmer’s track record and the word of team sources, the franchise will pay whatever it takes to retain both players, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com writes. The scribe adds that both players have deep business and personal ties to the area, which increases the likelihood they will re-sign with the Clippers. Shelburne also notes that the only way the team would net a decent return if it decided to trade one of the duo this season, would be if Paul/Griffin would agree to waive their player option for 2017/18. With the cap set to jump to over $100MM next summer, there is no logical reason for either player to agree to that stipulation, Shelburne opines.

And-Ones: Fredette, Alexander, Hunter

Jimmer Fredette, who signed a one-year deal to play for the Shanghai Sharks in China, is disappointed he isn’t playing in the NBA this season, but looks at his overseas trek as the next chapter in his career, Dick Harmon of The Deseret News writes. “I’m anxious to get it started,” Fredette said. “It is very similar to an NBA style of play with the Sharks,” Fredette said. “And in a city three times the size of New York City, it will be a lot of fun. I can’t imagine a city that size after being in New York last year.

The guard hopes his experience overseas will make him a better player and help him land another NBA shot in the future, Harmon relays. “I just want to get better. My goal is to improve everything I do,” Fredette said. “As an American, they want you to go over there and score the basketball, to be free and play your game and try to produce. That’s my game, to be aggressive, to score, make the right play. I think it will continue to grow my confidence and get me prepared for my future.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Magic training camp signee Cliff Alexander is a decent pick-and-roll player, has good hands and is physical around the rim and in the paint area, NBA.com’s Josh Cohen opines in his analysis of the player. The 20-year-old will compete for one of the remaining two regular season roster spots in Orlando during the preseason.
  • LeBron James, James Jones and Chris Paul have been served with notices of deposition in former NBA players’ union executive director Billy Hunter’s wrongful termination lawsuit against the NBPA, Ethan Sherwood Strauss of ESPN.com reports. Paul is the union president, James serves as vice president and Jones as secretary treasurer. Hunter is suing the NBPA for $10.5 million in addition to attorney’s fees, for compensation he allegedly did not receive after his ouster in February 2013, Strauss notes.
  • The Bulls, who completely overhauled their roster this offseason, could struggle mightily this season if the team is unable to get consistent production from its reserves, Bobby Marks of The Vertical opines in his look back at Chicago’s summer.

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