Chris Paul

Suspensions Handed Out To Ingram, Rondo, Paul

As expected, the three players at the forefront of the scuffle that broke out in last night’s game between the Rockets and Lakers have received suspensions. Adrian Wojnarowski has reported (via Twitter) that Brandon Ingram will be suspended for four games, Rajon Rondo three games and that Chris Paul will sit for two games.

As a result of these suspensions, Ingram and Rondo will miss the Lakers’ upcoming games against the Spurs, Suns and Nuggets (with Ingram missing another contest against the Spurs later in the week). Meanwhile, Paul will sit out games against the Clippers and Jazz before returning to action.

Financially speaking, Bobby Marks of ESPN has reported (Twitter link) that Ingram will be fined $158,816 for his four game suspension, Rondo will be fined $186,207 for his three missed games and Paul will be fined $491,782 for the two games he will be suspended for. The suspension is based on total salary divided by 145

Marks also notes that the Rockets will receive a $245,891 credit (half of Paul’s fine) that will be applied to their luxury tax at the end of the season.

These suspensions were inevitable, as all three players played key roles in the back-and-forth late in the fourth quarter of last night’s game.


Lakers, Rockets Brace For Suspensions

An exchange of punches late in Saturday’s game could result in significant suspensions for the LakersBrandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo and the RocketsChris Paul, write Dave McMenamin and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

Rondo and Paul landed punches on each other in the fracas, but Ingram could face the harshest punishment. He sparked the incident by pushing James Harden, then ran from halfcourt to throw a wild punch in the direction of both Paul and P.J. Tucker.

In the aftermath of the fight, the two teams couldn’t agree on what led Paul and Rondo to come to blows, other than a long-simmering feud between the veteran point guards. Paul claims Rondo spit in his face, while the Lakers contend nothing on the video backs up that assertion.

“You don’t do that to nobody — in sports, on the street,” Houston’s Carmelo Anthony said of the alleged spitting. “That’s blatant disrespect. You don’t do that. That’s unacceptable. … You don’t even see that in the streets, man.”

Lakers coach Luke Walton denied the accusation and blamed a flagrant 1 foul on the Rockets’ James Ennis a few minutes earlier for setting the tone for the incident.

“The clothesline three minutes prior, I saw that, and I have zero idea how that’s a flagrant 1,” Walton said. “The rule is — he clotheslined our guy, picked him up off his feet and slammed him on his back.”

NBA executive vice president Kiki VanDeWeghe, who handles discipline for the league, attended the game and has already begun an investigation. Rondo’s suspension three years ago for a homophobic slur toward a referee will likely be taken into account in determining his punishment, according to ESPN.

With the Rockets scheduled to play the Clippers tonight, an announcement is expected soon. Any accompanying fines will carry a per-game cost of $245,891 for Paul, $62,069 for Rondo and $39,704 for Ingram, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

Lengthy suspensions for Rondo and Ingram would give Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma a chance to return to the Lakers’ starting lineup. Ball has been operating under a minutes restriction since offseason surgery on his left knee, but told reporters he wouldn’t have any limitations.

Chris Paul Talks Carmelo Anthony Joining Rockets

In what has been an eventful offseason for Carmelo Anthony, the former Knicks star ended up signing a one-year with the Rockets. After a disappointing year with the Thunder, Anthony joins a Rockets team that came within one game of reaching the NBA Finals.

For Rockets point guard and Anthony’s close friend, Chris Paul, the signing is a good thing. Paul spoke to reporters – including Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston – about the signing and expressed optimism for both sides.

“Melo, I’m excited about it,” Paul said. “That’s my brother. I’m not only happy for our team, but I’m happy for him. When you know a guy that well you’re able to push each other and motivate each other and that we both have a common goal, wanting to win a championship.”

In his first and only season with Oklahoma City, Anthony averaged 16.2 PPG and 5.8 RPG with a shooting line of .404/.357/.767. He never developed the chemistry that he and the Thunder hoped with Russell Westbrook and Paul George — and later complained of his role with OKC.

While Anthony’s role in Houston is unclear — with a bench role a possibility — his new teammates have spoken highly of the 10-time All-Star. Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player James Harden has given his approval for Anthony joining Houston to chase an NBA title.

Chris Paul Wasn’t Worried About Losing Clint Capela

Even though it took nearly a month for the Rockets to re-sign Clint Capela, teammate Chris Paul said he was never concerned about losing the team’s starting center, relays Ashish Mathur of AmicoHoops.

Paul made the remarks in a recent interview on NBA TV, saying that although there was speculation Capela might sign elsewhere, he knew that conditions favored a return to Houston.

“It was good and well, but I mean I guess for the fans in the basketball world they probably don’t understand, we knew he wasn’t going nowhere,” Paul said. “You know what I mean? Like if you think about it, he was a restricted free agent. Clint wasn’t going nowhere.”

The Rockets could have matched any offer that Capela received, but none ever materialized. There was a feeling around the league that Houston was a lock to match anything short of a max contract, and two potential bidders filled their needs at center when the Suns drafted Deandre Ayton and the Mavericks signed DeAndre Jordan.

Capela could have opted to accept the Rockets’ qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent next summer, but the parties were able to agree to a five-year, $90MM contract on July 27.

Capela is coming off his best statistical season, averaging 13.9 points and 10.8 rebounds in 74 games. Not only is he the anchor of the Rockets’ interior defense, he provides a perfect pick-and-roll partner for Paul and league MVP James Harden.

Contract Details: CP3, MCW, Nurkic, Anderson

The Rockets‘ four-year max deal for Chris Paul includes a player option in year four, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). While that added detail on CP3’s new agreement with Houston is interesting, the possibility of an opt-out probably won’t be a factor in 2021 when a decision is due. Paul will be 36 years old when he has to decide on that $44MM+ option, so he seems unlikely to turn it down.

Pincus has several more specific details on recently-signed contracts, so let’s round them up…

  • Michael Carter-Williams‘ one-year, minimum-salary contract with the Rockets isn’t fully guaranteed. The deal, worth $1,757,429 in total, has a $1.2MM partial guarantee for now (Twitter link).
  • The Trail Blazers‘ agreement with Jusuf Nurkic can be worth up to $54MM, but has a base value of $48MM, with $6MM in unlikely incentives. The fourth and final year is also currently only partially guaranteed for $4MM (Twitter link).
  • Kyle Anderson‘s new four-year contract with the Grizzlies features a 15% trade kicker (Twitter link).
  • Bruce Brown (Pistons) and Keita Bates-Diop (Timberwolves) got three-year, minimum-salary deals with two guaranteed seasons from their respective teams (Twitter link).
  • Of the two-way contracts signed so far this offseason, Billy Preston‘s deal with the Cavaliers is the only one confirmed to be for two years rather than just one (Twitter link).

Chris Paul Signs Four-Year Max Deal With Rockets

JULY 8: The new contract with Paul is official, the Rockets announced on Twitter.

JUNE 30: The Rockets will lock up Chris Paul to a long-term deal, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that the All-Star point guard has agreed to a four-year, maximum-salary contract with Houston.

As our breakdown of max salaries for 2018/19 shows, a four-year max for Paul should be worth $159,730,592.

Paul turned in a stellar season in his first year in Houston, dispelling any concerns about his ability to mesh with James Harden. Paul averaged 18.6 points and 7.9 assists and helped the Rockets post the NBA’s best record at 65-17. However, he suffered a hamstring injury late in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals and missed the last two games as Houston fell to the Warriors.

The big payday for Paul comes a year after he bypassed free agency and opted in to the final year of his $24.6MM contract to help facilitate a trade from the Clippers to the Rockets. At the time, there was a belief that CP3 and the Rockets had a general understanding that the team would take care of him when he eventually reached unrestricted free agency.

That turned out to be the case, though the 33-year-old was eligible for a full max contract over five seasons, so Houston got a bit of a break with a four-year deal.

With Paul locked up, the Rockets will now shift their focus to retaining key contributors like Clint Capela and Luc Mbah a Moute. If Houston re-signs Capela to a lucrative new deal, team salary figures to exceed the luxury tax threshold for 2018/19.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Amick’s Latest: CP3, Rockets, Kawhi, Cavs, George

There’s a “strong sense in Rockets circles” that Chris Paul isn’t go anywhere this offseason as a free agent, writes Sam Amick of USA Today. While a recent report from Chris Broussard of Fox Sports hinted at possible tension between Paul and the Rockets, Amick spoke to two sources with knowledge of the situation who disputed the idea that there’s any friction there.

Broussard’s report suggested that there might be a disparity between what sort of free agent contract Paul expected when he accommodated a trade to Houston last summer and what the Rockets are willing to offer now. According to Amick, there was indeed a “mutual understanding” in 2017 of what Paul’s next contract would look like, and it’s not clear if a five-year, maximum-salary agreement will be on the table. However, it seems likely that the two sides will reach an agreement, per Amick.

Here are a few more items of interest from Amick:

  • When it comes to Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs seem determined to either fix the situation or trade him to an Eastern Conference team, according to Amick, who says that Western clubs inquiring on Leonard have “been told, in essence, to get lost.” We heard earlier this week that the Spurs “basically shut the door” on the Lakers when they called about Leonard.
  • The Cavaliers have contacted the Spurs to ask about Leonard, but there’s no traction toward a potential deal, per Amick. San Antonio has welcomed offers for its All-Star forward, but hasn’t engaged in any trade negotiations.
  • Amick is the latest reporter to suggest that there’s a real possibility of Paul George remaining with the Thunder, writing that George has strong relationships with Russell Westbrook and Billy Donovan. Interestingly, Amick adds that there’s “pessimism in [LeBron] James‘ camp” that George would leave Oklahoma City — that could work against the Lakers, who are expected to try to land both George and James.

Latest On Chris Paul, Rockets

Chris Paul is considered unlikely to leave the Rockets in free agency this summer, but an agreement between the two sides may not be a done deal quite yet. According to Chris Broussard of Fox Sports (video link), there might be a little “tension” between Paul and the Rockets.

As Broussard explains, it’s widely believed that there was a mutual understanding between Paul and the Rockets last summer that the team would give him a long-term, maximum-salary contract in 2018 after he passed up on free agency in 2017 to accommodate a trade to Houston. Now, it’s not clear if the Rockets will be willing to invest on a four- or five-year max deal for CP3.

The Rockets’ new ownership could play a role in the situation too, according to Broussard, who notes that Tilman Fertitta bought the franchise from Leslie Alexander after the team acquired Paul last summer. If Houston doesn’t put a long-term max offer on the table for Paul, the club could point to that ownership change as one reason why, Broussard suggests.

While it’s possible that the Rockets and Paul may not be on entirely the same page when it comes to his next contract, I’d be surprised if the two sides don’t get there within the next week or two. After all, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported just a few days ago that Paul was expected to return to Houston and was focusing more on LeBron James‘ free agency than his own.

The situation is somewhat reminiscent of Jrue Holiday‘s and Kyle Lowry‘s free agencies last year. In those cases, neither star point guard got a true maximum-salary contract, but they both got massive near-max deals from their previous teams, who had the ability to offer them more years and higher raises than any rival suitor. I’d anticipate a similar arrangement for Paul and the Rockets.

Woj’s Latest: CP3, Rockets, George, Suns, Mavs

Having appeared on a pair of draft specials on ESPN on Monday night, Adrian Wojnarowski shared several interesting tidbits related to the draft and free agency during his segments. We’ve already passed along a few of those notes and rumors in a pair of posts this morning, but we’ve got more to round up in the space below, so let’s dive in…

  • Chris Paul still appears to be a virtual lock to return to the Rockets, and is focused less on his own free agency than on recruiting LeBron James to Houston, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link via Sagar Trika). Meanwhile, the Rockets would also love to re-sign Trevor Ariza, but the veteran forward will be a popular free agent who draws interest from multiple contenders, per Woj (Twitter link via Trika).
  • Wojnarowski is the latest to report that the Thunder still have a good chance to re-sign Paul George, despite the club’s underwhelming showing in the postseason (Twitter link via Trika).
  • After Wojnarowski reported that the Suns‘ No. 16 pick could be in play for a trade, GM Ryan McDonough confirmed as much during an appearance on ESPN, suggesting that his team would be willing to package the selection and another asset or two in order to acquire a second lottery pick (Twitter links via Trika).
  • The Mavericks are high on Luka Doncic, and are weighing whether they’ll have a shot to select the Real Madrid star at No. 5, says Wojnarowski (link via The Dallas Morning News). The Mavs have previously indicated that they have no plans to move up, but it sounds like they’d at least consider the possibility if it means landing Doncic.
  • According to Wojnarowski, the Sixers aren’t expected to hire a new general manager anytime soon — Woj reports the team will likely interview candidates deep into July (Twitter link via Trika).

Southwest Rumors: Potapenko, Cousins, Mavs Draft, Rockets

Vitaly Potapenko and Greg Buckner are among the assistants named to J.B. Bickerstaff’s staff with the Grizzlies, according to a team press release. Potapenko had been the Cavaliers’ assistant director of player development since 2013, while Buckner is a holdover from last season’s staff. As previously announced, Jerry Stackhouse will also be a top assistant for Bickerstaff. Stackhouse, who coached the Raptors’ G League the past two seasons, interviewed for several head coaching jobs. Chad Forcier, an assistant under Frank Vogel with the Magic the last two seasons, has also joined the staff along with Nick Van Exel and Adam Mazarei.

In other developments around the Southwest Division:

  • DeMarcus Cousins will most likely stay put with the Pelicans but there are three other Western Conference teams where the big man would be a good fit, HoopsHype tweets. The Mavericks, Lakers and Spurs are the most likely landing spots for Cousins if he leaves New Orleans, HoopsHype adds.
  • A draft night trade with the Bulls might make sense for the Mavericks, Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News speculates. Dallas owns the No. 5 pick with Chicago slotted at No. 7. If Michael Porter Jr. and Trae Young go a little higher than anticipated, the Mavs could move down and either Mohamed Bamba, Wendell Carter or Jaren Jackson would still be on the board, Cowlishaw points out.
  • Rockets fans should lower their expectations of potentially landing LeBron James or Paul George and simply hope GM Daryl Morey can upgrade a  luxury-tax team with precious few young assets, Sean Deveney of Sports Illustrated opines. Giving Chris Paul a max contract will be a tough pill but one they’ll have to swallow to remain a prime contender, Deveney adds.