Chris Paul

Chris Paul To Opt Out Of Contract

7:36pm: A tweet from ESPN’s Marc Spears says that, while Paul is expected to opt out, he hasn’t formally told the team or filed with the league at this point.

5:20pm: The Clippers have been informed that All-Star guard Chris Paul will decline his player option for 2017/18, Brad Turner of the LA Times tweets.

Paul, who recently turned 32, averaged 18.1 points and 9.2 assists in his 12th NBA season and is among the biggest names on the market this summer. While the Clippers will obviously look to retain him – and are the ‘overwhelming favorite‘ to do so – the veteran has also been linked to the Spurs (June 2 report) and, to a lesser extent, the Rockets and Nuggets (June 15 report).

The news of Paul’s decision comes shortly after it was announced that Blake Griffin, too, opted out of the final year of his own deal, effectively jump starting an inevitably busy offseason for Clippers president Doc Rivers.

Had Paul accepted his player option, he would have made $24.3MM this season. Now, under the new collective bargaining agreement, he’ll be eligible to make around $200MM over five years, so long as he stays with the Clippers.

 

Spurs Have Interest In Derrick Rose

The Spurs have been linked to Chris Paul multiple times this month, but he’s not the only point guard expected to be on the team’s radar, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com, who tweets that San Antonio also has interest in Derrick Rose. In fact, Shelburne classifies the Spurs’ interest in both Paul and Rose as “strong.”

It’s somewhat hard to imagine Rose landing in San Antonio in free agency, but he’ll likely be significantly less expensive than CP3 as a free agent, and may not require a long-term deal. The Spurs also don’t currently project to have room for a maximum salary free agent, so pursuing Rose as a more affordable alternative is one path the team could take.

Still, while Rose continued to exhibit his playmaking ability in New York last season, averaging 18.0 PPG, he’s not much of a distributor or a shooter — he recorded just 4.4 APG and made 21.7% of his three-pointers. The Knicks don’t appear all that interested in retaining him this summer, though Phil Jackson said on Thursday night that the club is approaching Rose’s free agency with a willingness to listen (Twitter link via Ian Begley of ESPN.com).

Within a piece for The New York Daily News, Stefan Bondy offers another seemingly far-fetched Spurs-Knicks scenario, suggesting that a trade involving Carmelo Anthony and LaMarcus Aldridge could make sense for both sides, with Aldridge reportedly unhappy in San Antonio. However, Bondy acknowledges there’s no guarantee Anthony would waive his no-trade clause to join the Spurs, and I’m not sure he’d be a fit in San Antonio anyway.

A source tells Bondy that another possible Aldridge trade possibility to watch for is a sign-and-trade scenario involving Hawks big man Paul Millsap.

Rockets Target Paul, Griffin, Millsap, Lowry

1:41pm: In an effort to create cap space, the Rockets are making Beverley, Anderson and Lou Williams all available in trades, Stein writes in a full story. Williams will make $7MM next season in the final year of his contract.

12:33pm: The Rockets will chase several of the top free agents on the market this summer, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Sources tell Stein that Houston plans to pursue Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Paul Millsap and Kyle Lowry.

Paul, who is expected to opt out of a nearly $24.3MM salary, will be the top point guard on the market and is rumored to have strong interest from the Spurs, among others. Griffin is expected to use an early termination option and give up a salary of nearly $21.4MM. The Hawks are reluctant to offer Millsap a maximum deal and have reportedly talked to other teams about a sign-and-trade. Lowry is a former Rocket who was traded to Toronto in 2012.

All four players will be seeking max offers, which mean the Rockets, who currently have a maximum of $11.7MM to operate with, will have to clear significant cap room. Houston reportedly is seeking to trade starting guard Patrick Beverley, which would save about $5.5MM and create a backcourt opening for Paul or Lowry. Finding a taker for Ryan Anderson (nearly $19.6MM next season) or Eric Gordon (more than $12.9MM) would open a lot more.

Woj’s Latest: Pacers, George, Lakers, Knicks

Before Paul George‘s camp informed the Pacers that George expects to opt out and leave Indiana next year, the team had been considering pursuing some notable free agents, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. On his latest podcast with Bobby Marks, Wojnarowski identifies point guard Jrue Holiday and forward Danilo Gallinari as a pair of veterans being eyed by the Pacers.

However, according to Wojnarowski, George didn’t want the Pacers to make major moves for his benefit this offseason, locking themselves into big free agent contracts in the hopes that he would be willing to re-sign. With George’s days in Indiana now numbered, the club will likely forgo its potential pursuit of free agents like Holiday and Gallinari.

Here are some more highlights from Wojnarowski’s conversation with Marks, which centered on George but touched on a few other topics as well:

  • Although Larry Bird is no longer the Pacers‘ president, he’s still a consultant for the team, and he likely wants to avoid sending George to his old rivals in Los Angeles for pennies on the dollar, Wojnarowski observes. Still, Wojnarowski and Marks don’t expect George’s camp to help accommodate a trade to any team besides the Lakers, since the star forward may simply prefer to stay with the Pacers for one more season rather than being sent to a team he’ll likely leave in a year.
  • The Lakers won’t offer Brandon Ingram or the No. 2 overall pick in a package for George, according to Wojnarowski, who predicts that L.A. wouldn’t offer the Pacers more than some combination of Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and the No. 28 pick.
  • As the Lakers look ahead to the 2018 offseason, which could see them going after top free agents like George and LeBron James, they’ll want to clear Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng from their books. However, Wojnarowski says the only way that will happen is if the club is willing to attach a first-round pick or a talented young player like D’Angelo Russell to one of those bad contracts. Using the stretch provision on the duo in the summer of 2018 probably makes more sense for L.A.
  • In Wojnarowski’s view, the door was open for the Knicks to be in the Chris Paul discussion this summer, since there’s no perfect fit for CP3 if he wants to leave the Clippers. In theory, the Knicks could have been that fit, but with Phil Jackson and the triangle around, nobody is talking about wanting to play in New York, says Woj.
  • Continuing his discussion of the Knicks, Wojnarowski suggests that Jackson’s treatment of Carmelo Anthony has soured many veterans on New York. In particular, Anthony’s friends like Paul, LeBron, and Dwyane Wade view Carmelo’s situation as a cautionary tale, and that view seems to be widely shared around the NBA.

Clippers Express Interest In Paul George

The Clippers have expressed interest in Paul George, reports Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. For Los Angeles to be a serious contender in the George sweepstakes, the Pacers would likely have to be willing to wait until July to finalize a trade.

As Deveney writes, the Clippers’ best chance to make a trade involving a highly-paid player like George would involve signing-and-trading one of their top free agents. While Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will be among those free agents, the Clips’ dream scenario would likely be using another UFA, J.J. Redick, in a sign-and-trade, then forming a Big Four with Paul, Griffin, George, and DeAndre Jordan.

That scenario is probably a long shot, since the Clippers don’t have first-round picks in 2017 or 2019, and acquiring Redick on an expensive new deal may not appeal to Indiana. But if any team besides the Lakers should feel confident in its ability to lock up George beyond 2018, the Clippers might might be that team, given their ability to get PG13 to his preferred city.

Here are several more George rumors or notes, in the wake of Sunday’s report that he plans on leaving the Pacers:

  • The Cavaliers and Pacers have been immersed in trade talks regarding George, league sources tell Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net. According to Amico, Cleveland’s interest in George has been described as “legit,” but pulling off a deal could be “very complicated.”
  • Two NBA sources who spoke to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer (Twitter link) expect the Lakers to get involved in George trade talks if it appears the Cavaliers are moving close to a deal. However, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter links) is skeptical that the Lakers would move young players like D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle for George, suggesting that Jordan Clarkson is a more likely trade candidate. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reports that the Lakers currently appear unwilling to part with any of their young assets in a trade with the Pacers.
  • The Rockets are worth keeping an eye on in the George sweepstakes, according to Sean Deveney, who observes that Daryl Morey is generally willing to roll the dice on impact players without getting a long-term commitment.
  • The Heat like George, but – given their lack of tradeable first-round picks – probably don’t have the assets to acquire him, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Chris Paul Planning To Talk To Rockets, Nuggets?

The Clippers have recently become “nervous” about reports that Chris Paul is expected to meet with – and perhaps seriously consider – the Spurs in free agency, an executive tells Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. And San Antonio isn’t the only potential suitor Paul plans to talk to, according to Turner, who reports that the veteran point guard may meet with the Rockets and Nuggets as well.

If Paul gives serious consideration to leaving the Clippers, there will likely be no shortage of teams with interest in meeting with him. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical suggested earlier this week that the Lakers and Heat could also get involved in the CP3 sweepstakes this summer. However, the Clippers should still have the upper hand in negotiations, with the ability to offer Paul more years and money than any other team, and with Jerry West joining the front office as a consultant.

[RELATED: Jerry West to leave Warriors for Clippers]

The Rockets and Nuggets probably aren’t likely landing spots for Paul, but they’d be fascinating ones. The Nuggets would be a better on-court fit for CP3, given Emmanuel Mudiay‘s slow development, but Denver typically isn’t a go-to destination for top free agents. As for the Rockets, they’re closer to title contention, but after James Harden had an MVP-esque season playing point guard, it would be surprising if Houston is willing to supplant him from that role, even for Paul.

Turner’s piece also cites several executives who say that the Celtics and Thunder are viewed as the two teams most likely to try to pry Blake Griffin away from the Clippers in free agency. Oklahoma City won’t have any cap room this summer, so if the Thunder were to make a serious run at Griffin, they’d have to dump salary or try to acquire him via sign-and-trade.

Woj’s Latest: Celtics, Griffin, CP3, LeBron, Snell

The Celtics are expected to be the Clippers‘ biggest threat for Blake Griffin this summer, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, who discussed 2017 free agency on a podcast with Bobby Marks. Wojnarowski suggests that Griffin and Gordon Hayward are expected to be the Celtics’ top two targets next month, adding that if Hayward leaves the Jazz, it would be a “tortured” decision.

As for the Clippers, Wojnarowski doesn’t see a scenario in which the club is able to bring back Griffin, Chris Paul, and J.J. Redick. And while Redick is probably the most likely of the three to change teams, Woj thinks there’s a “real chance” the Clippers would move on from from Paul if the two sides can’t come to a quick agreement when free agency begins. Wojnarowski names the Spurs, Heat, Lakers, and Rockets as teams that could get involved in the CP3 sweepstakes if the veteran point guard seriously considers leaving the Clips.

Here are some of the other highlights from Wojnarowski’s conversation with Marks:

  • The Cavaliers aren’t necessarily assuming it’s a given that LeBron James will re-sign with them in 2018. A move out west – possibly to the Lakers or Clippers – a year from now is “very much in play” for LeBron, according to Wojnarowski.
  • Wojnarowski suggests that Tony Snell may be a popular restricted free agent this summer, since teams may feel like they can put pressure on the Bucks, who won’t want to approach tax territory. An annual salary in the $11-13MM range is within range for Snell, says Wojnarowski.
  • During a discussion of possible Nets RFA targets, Wojnarowski mentions Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and notes that the Pistons don’t really want to max him out. However, the idea of losing KCP for nothing would likely be even less appealing to Detroit.
  • While the Lakers haven’t necessarily made any decisions yet, they’re “looking hard” at Josh Jackson with the No. 2 pick. Wojnarowski observes that there are a lot of voices in the team’s front office, so Jackson has support from some execs.
  • Wojnarowski and Marks dismiss the idea that the Kings would trade the fifth and 10th overall picks to move up to No. 3 to nab a top point guard. However, they acknowledge that Sacramento packaging the No. 5 pick with something a little less valuable in order to trade up wouldn’t be unrealistic.

Chris Paul Would Seriously Consider Spurs If He Leaves L.A.

Two teams that have battled for top seeds in the West in recent years may battle for one of this summer’s top free agents next month. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, Chris Paul intends to seriously consider signing with the Spurs in the event that he leaves the Clippers in free agency.

As much as Paul enjoys Los Angeles, he’s “intrigued” by the idea of teaming up with Kawhi Leonard and playing for Gregg Popovich, and potentially making the deep playoff run that hasn’t materialized with the Clippers, Stein reports. According to the ESPN report, the Spurs are “increasingly considered a lock” to meet with CP3 face to face once free agency officially gets underway on July 1, despite the fact that the team currently doesn’t have the cap room necessary to sign him.

Meanwhile, the Clippers have already begun to consider roster and organizational changes aimed at convincing Paul to re-sign, sources tell Stein. Stein adds that L.A.’s recent push to lure Jerry West from the Warriors is one example of the type of move the team hopes will convince Paul to return, though Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link) hears that West is staying with Golden State and met with the Clips as a courtesy.

We had already heard about the mutual interest between Paul and the Spurs, and Stein had reported earlier that the Clippers viewed San Antonio as a serious threat, so today’s report isn’t exactly a bombshell. The interest between Paul and the Spurs certainly appears real, but the Clips are still viewed as the favorite to re-sign the veteran point guard, who could use San Antonio’s interest as leverage in an effort to get the full max.

Clippers Remain ‘Overwhelming Favorite’ To Re-Sign Chris Paul

There is reportedly “mutual interest” between the Spurs and Chris Paul, and the Clippers are said to view San Antonio as a legit threat in the CP3 sweepstakes. However, that doesn’t mean the Spurs are the frontrunners to land the All-Star point guard. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the Clippers remain the “overwhelming favorite” to re-sign Paul.

Appearing on CBS Sports Radio with Gary Parrish on Sunday, Wojnarowski said he has a hard time imagining Paul leaving Los Angeles. Not only can the Clippers offer more years and dollars than any other team, but CP3 also still has significant marketing opportunities in the L.A. area, Wojnarowski observes. By comparison, the Spurs appear to be more of a long shot to sign Paul.

“I’ve spent a lot of time around the Spurs this spring,” Wojnarowski said. “They would have to just tear up that entire payroll. It’s almost unlike anything the Spurs would’ve done or would do to even have a chance at him. I mean, they’d have to really gut the roster. And to do that for a 30-plus-year-old point guard, who has a couple great years left, there’s no question — I think there’s more pressure on the Clippers to have to re-sign him than for the Spurs to turn their whole franchise over to make a run at him.”

As Wojnarowski alludes to, the Spurs don’t currently have the cap room to make a run at Paul, so if they were to seriously pursue him, they’d have to move some salary, which would likely mean surrendering key pieces.

Even if San Antonio had the space to make a max offer to CP3, the team’s proposal would still fall $50MM+ short of what the Clippers could put on the table — L.A. can go up to five years (instead of four) with 8% raises (instead of 5%) for Paul. Based on a $101MM cap projection, Paul could land up to about $205MM over five years with the Clips.

Spurs Notes: Free Agents, Simmons, Paul, Lee

The Spurs’ decision on whether to pursue Chris Paul will play a role in which free agents return next season, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. The organization would have to clear a massive amount of cap space to offer Paul a max deal, which would probably mean renouncing Patty Mills and not matching an offer sheet for restricted free agent Jonathon Simmons. In addition, Dewayne Dedmon and David Lee both have player options and might also be renounced if they opt out. If the Spurs are able to sign Paul, they will have to fill out the roster using their mid-level exception and veterans minimum deals.

There’s more news out of San Antonio:

  • If the Spurs want to keep Simmons, they will get some help from an “arcane” rule, McDonald notes in the same story. The Gilbert Arenas provision limits first-year offers to Simmons to the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, which will be roughly $8.4MM next season. Of course, offer sheets can be heavily backloaded over the final two years, similar to what the Nets did with Tyler Johnson last summer. If the Spurs are operating over the cap, they won’t have the ability to spread the hit evenly over four seasons, so they could be looking at a substantial salary commitment in 2019/20 and 2020/21 for a player who turns 28 in September.
  • To make a realistic run at Paul, the Spurs would have to find a taker for LaMarcus Aldridge, Danny Green or Tony Parker, writes Nick Moyle of The San Antonio Express-News. That means trading them without taking back salary, which will almost certainly require giving up draft picks. Aldridge would probably be the most difficult of the three to move, as he is signed for $21.461MM for next season, along with a $22.347MM player option for 2018/19. Green will make $10MM next year, with a $10MM player option the following season. Parker is entering the final year of his contract at $15.453MM.
  • Lee won’t need surgery for a strained patellar tendon in his left knee, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. The injury, which Lee suffered in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals, is expected to heal in about six weeks.
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