Pacific Rumors: Paul, Howard, Warriors, Suns

The Lakers were thought to be in the market for an extra big man earlier today, but they found out later that Jordan Hill won't need surgery on his back and should be ready for the regular season opener. Hill, of course, isn't the only Laker post player recovering from a back injury, and the team continues to get encouraging news on Dwight Howard as well. We've got more on him and other news from around the Pacific Division.

  • Arash Markazi of looks at what it will take for the Clippers to convince Chris Paul, a free agent at season's end, to stay. 
  • Howard has been cleared to go five-on-five for limited minutes in practice, tweets Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times. That seemed to be the final barrier between Howard and his return from back surgery, and it would take a "major setback" for Howard not to be in the lineup on opening night, opines Markazi (Twitter link).
  • Warriors coach Mark Jackson has high praise for rookie Festus Ezeli, who's competing with Andris Biedrins for the backup center job. "He was spectacular. He is the real deal. I can't believe he was there at (pick number) 30," Jackson said, as Marcus Thompson II of the Bay Area News Group tweets. Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle passes along the same quote, and adds Jackson's comments about Harrison Barnes, whom the coach also believes is better than advertised.
  • Thompson shares his insight on the competition to start at small forward for the Warriors, which he says is down to Barnes and Brandon Rush, with Rush having the inside track, sources say (Sulia link).
  • Jermaine O'Neal, who signed a minimum-salary deal with the Suns, says training camp in Phoenix is much different from his experience with the Celtics, as Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic writes.

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