Chris Paul

Sixers Have Interest In Robert Covington, Other Players

The Sixers are parsing the trade market for reinforcements who can shoot the ball. According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, Philadelphia has expressed interest in several role players, including Malik Beasley, Glenn Robinson III, Davis Bertans, E’Twaun Moore, and Andre Iguodala. O’Connor adds that the team has also inquired on Robert Covington, whom the team dealt away in the Jimmy Butler deal last season.

Most of those names, including Covington, are truly available. The price for Minnesota’s wing is expected to be high and with Philadelphia void of shiny assets, GM Elton Brand will have to get creative if he is going to bring back Sam Hinkie’s former gem.

Zhaire Smith is the young prospect the team is most willing to part with. Rivals teams have more interest in Matisse Thybulle, though Philadelphia is reluctant to deal the No. 20 overall pick. The franchise owns all of its own draft picks starting in the 2021 draft, so the Sixers could attempt to sweeten any deal with a future asset.

Other names on that list could be more obtainable than RoCo. It’ll be tough to pry Bertans from Washington, as the team can envision him as a long-term piece, but Iguodala, Moore, and Robinson are in obvious selling situations. Denver won’t be a seller at the trade deadline, but with a deep rotation and Beasley’s impending restricted free agency, the franchise is smartly assessing the market for the shooting guard.

Here’s more on Philadelphia.

  • O’Connor contends that the Sixers should consider making a bigger move for Chris Paul, swapping either Tobias Harris or Al Horford and additional salary for the 34-year-old point guard. However, the scribe hears that Harris and Horford, each of whom signed long-term deals this offseason, aren’t any more tradeable than CP3.
  • Trading Simmons doesn’t appear likely, in part because it would mean “putting all your superstar eggs in the Embiid basket,” and the big man has had a shaky injury history. O’ Connor wonders if Simmons would be the one the team decides to build around if forced to choose between the two.
  • Big changes will likely come with an early exit in the playoffs, though many around the game believe it would be Brett Brown who takes the fall in that scenario. There were rumblings that former team president Bryan Colangelo was planning to fire Brown and replace him with Villanova coach Jay Wright, but that was before Twittergate. Still, O’Connor hears from multiple sources that Brown didn’t have the best relationship with the locker room last season.

Stein’s Latest: KAT, Paul, Zion, Predictions

Reports surfaced this week that the Knicks and Warriors are among the teams monitoring Karl-Anthony Towns‘ situation in Minnesota, but the Timberwolves have no interest in trading their star center, Marc Stein of The New York Times writes in this week’s newsletter. Stein adds that team officials have told him repeatedly that they are building “everything” around Towns, and a trade is the last thing the organization is considering.

The Wolves have tumbled into 12th place in the West after a 10-8 start, and Towns’ injury is part of the reason for the slide. He is in the first season of a five-year, $190MM extension and there’s a new front office team in place run by Gersson Rosas, so there’s no hurry to make major changes.

Executives around the league expect Rosas to be active around the trade deadline, but that’s mostly because of his background with the traditionally aggressive Rockets. Stein notes that teams continue to express interest in acquiring swingman Robert Covington.

There’s more from Stein’s latest piece:

  • Stein has been skeptical that the Russell WestbrookJames Harden pairing could work, but states that the Rockets were forced to make a move because their relationship with Chris Paul was “irretrievably broken” after last season’s playoff ouster. Westbrook was one of the few available options whose contract matched up well with Paul’s.
  • Stein predicts the Pelicans will give serious consideration to keeping Zion Williamson sidelined for the entire season if he’s not healthy enough to return in January. There have been encouraging signs that he might be ready to suit up soon, and New Orleans would like to see how he fits alongside Jrue Holiday and Brandon Ingram before making long-term decisions on both players. However, Stein states that if Williamson goes another month without playing, the safest option may be to skip his entire first season and make sure he’s ready for training camp.
  • Among other 2020 predictions, Stein expects the PacersMalcolm Brogdon and the NetsSpencer Dinwiddie to be first-time All-Stars, the Bucks to fall short of 70 wins, the NBA Board of Governors to approve an in-season tournament as well as a play-in tourney for the final two playoff spots in each conference and Gregg Popovich to retire after coaching the U.S. Olympic team.

O’Connor’s Latest: Heat, CP3, Holiday, Gentry, Giannis

The Heat inquired about a trade for Chris Paul during the offseason but never came close to an agreement with the Thunder. And at this point, Miami’s interest in Paul is “extinct,” league sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.

A trade involving the Heat and CP3 always seemed like a long shot, since Miami and Oklahoma City didn’t see eye-to-eye on the veteran point guard’s trade value and Pat Riley didn’t want to compromise his club’s cap flexibility for the 2021 offseason. However, O’Connor’s suggestion that the Heat’s interest is now non-existent is perhaps a significant reason why the Thunder and Paul’s camp reportedly have “no belief” that a trade will happen this season.

Here’s more from O’Connor:

  • Rather than going after Paul, the Heat are considered more likely to pursue a trade for Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday, O’Connor hears from multiple league executives. Any major trade may be tricky for the hard-capped Heat to pull off, but Marc Stein of The New York Times reported on Tuesday that New Orleans is open to inquiries on Holiday.
  • Before the Pelicans make any significant roster moves, they’re probably more likely to make a head coaching change, two front office sources tell O’Connor. Multiple reports earlier this month indicated that Alvin Gentry‘s job was safe for now, but the club’s ongoing losing streak has extended to 13 games since then, so Gentry’s seat may be getting hotter.
  • It’s no secret around the NBA that the Heat are among the teams hoping to make a run at Giannis Antetokounmpo if he reaches free agency in 2021, O’Connor writes. While he cautions that it might be a “pipe dream,” O’Connor argues that Miami will be well-positioned to make a strong pitch to a star free agent that summer, since the team could theoretically retain Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn, Justise Winslow, and Duncan Robinson and still open up enough cap room for a max player like Giannis.

Western Notes: Paul, Jazz, Miller, Zion

While Oklahoma City is exceeding expectations this season, GM Sam Presti is still operating with the franchise’s long-term future in mind, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman writes. Chris Paul is unlikely to be dealt before the deadline, but his play could be increasing his trade value and that helps the team’s long-term position, whether a trade happens this season or down the road. On Monday night, Paul had arguably his best game as a member of the Thunder, scoring 19 points in the fourth quarter as the team beat the Bulls.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Tony Jones of The Athletic wonders if the Jazz can turn their season around on their own or if the team needs to make a trade. While Utah could use additional depth, the franchise doesn’t have many assets that would make a trade worthwhile.
  • Darius Miller, who is recovering from a torn Achilles, spoke with William Guillory of The Athletic about his journey back to the court as well as the differences between the Pelicans this season vs. last. “Of course, we’ve had our ups and downs, but it’s a great group of guys,” Miller said. “Griff (head of basketball operations David Griffin) did a great job putting great teammates here, great people. Not just great basketball players, but great people. It’s been good getting to know all these guys. We’re still young, so we’re really just trying to figure out everything.”
  • Paul Pierce believes that the Pelicans should shut down Zion Williamson for the season, as he explains on ESPN’s The Jump. The 2019 No. 1 overall pick hasn’t played for New Orleans yet this season because of a knee injury.

Trade Rumors: Nuggets, Thunder, Turner, More

Within his early breakdown of the 2019/20 trade market, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today notes that the Nuggets may make young role players like Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez available, especially if they can include them in a package that nets them an impact player.

Zillgitt also wonders if Thunder point guard Chris Paul would consider waiving his 2021/22 player option, since eliminating that final year from his contract would make him a far more appealing trade chip to teams looking to retain long-term flexibility. Of course, waiving that option would cost Paul a guaranteed $44MM salary for ’21/22, and there’s no guarantee he’d recoup more than a fraction of that amount on a new deal. So that scenario looks like a bit of a long shot for now.

Here are a few more stories focusing on the NBA’s in-season trade market:

  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report spoke to a handful of current and former NBA executives to evaluate teams’ needs and players’ value in advance of the February trade deadline. One former general manager thinks it may take more time for teams to become sellers, since sub-.500 teams hold playoff spots in each conference. “I don’t think any of these teams [outside of the top eight] are scared,” the former GM said. “It’s going to take longer for teams to lose confidence that they have a chance to fight for eighth. … We’ll see more separation [in the standings] closer to February.”
  • According to Pincus, several executives believe the Pacers will eventually seriously consider trading Myles Turner, since he’s not considered a great long-term fit alongside Domantas Sabonis. Turner was viewed as the more valuable asset last season, but Sabonis has been better so far this year.
  • Sean Deveney of Heavy.com identifies several newly trade-eligible players who are worth keeping an eye on as February’s deadline nears, including Warriors guard D’Angelo Russell, Bulls forward Thaddeus Young, and several Knicks veterans. We singled out many of the same trade candidates on Monday in our own look at players whose trade restrictions lifted on December 15.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic explores five questions that could shape this season’s trade deadline, such as just how serious the Nuggets and Mavericks are about their short-term chances to contend.

“No Belief” Thunder Will Trade Chris Paul This Season

It has now been exactly five months since Chris Paul was sent from Houston to Oklahoma City in the blockbuster trade that sent Russell Westbrook to the Rockets. From the moment that deal happened, Paul has been considered the NBA’s most obvious candidate to be moved in another trade, but it appears as if the Thunder and the veteran point guard are preparing for the possibility that no deal is coming.

“There is no belief in Oklahoma City or even in the CP3 camp that there’s going to be a trade for him,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on Sunday night on the network’s trade deadline special (video link). “… I think they’re resigned that he’ll be there.”

[RELATED: More trade rumors from Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe]

According to Wojnarowski, an offseason trade involving Paul remains a possibility, but his massive contract makes him an especially tricky player to move during the season, even though he has played well so far in Oklahoma City.

A player like Danilo Gallinari, who has a $22.6MM expiring contract, is a stronger candidate to be dealt before the deadline. However, the Thunder won’t just be prepared to accept the best offer for the veteran forward. Wojnarowski points out that – due to the lack of teams projected to have cap room during the 2020 offseason – OKC could realistically keep Gallinari through the season, then work with him on a sign-and-trade in the summer to get something back for him at that point.

Dennis Schroder and Steven Adams are among the other veteran trade candidates on the Thunder’s roster, and there should be interest in both, per Woj. But all four players have significant cap hits and Gallinari is the only one on an expiring deal, so there’s no guarantee the club will be extremely active at the deadline.

Northwest Notes: Carmelo, Presti, Paul, Bazley, Nuggets

Carmelo Anthony made his long-awaited return to the hardwood by signing a contract with the Trail Blazers last month, but the 10-time NBA All-Star revealed that he was open to traveling down a different road if the opportunity presented itself: Going back to Denver.

“I was open to it,” Anthony said about potentially signing with the Nuggets, as relayed by Mike Singer of the Denver Post. “We talked about it. People in my circle were like, ‘Go back to Denver.’ If it was that easy I probably would’ve done it. A lot of things came into play when it comes to that, kind of out of my control at that time, the timing was off. Similar to Portland, the timing has always just been off. All of the sudden that window of opportunity was there.”

Anthony spent his first seven-and-a-half seasons with the Nuggets organization, having been drafted by the team No. 3 overall back in 2003. He helped change the outlook of the franchise during his stint and established himself as one of the league’s most elite players during that time, averaging more than 25 points per game in five of those seasons.

“I don’t think I can ever stop appreciating not just the organization but the city as a whole,” Anthony said of Denver. “We were at a point in time where it was a shift, the team had just only won 17 games prior to when we came in. We kind of started or created a different culture here. The uniforms changed, we changed the colors of the uniform, the vibe in Denver was different, the aura in the city, the energy was different. We were a part of that change.”

Anthony has since moved on and recently had his contract guaranteed by Portland for the remainder of the season, emphasizing his desire to compete with the Blazers for a playoff spot this spring. In 12 games with the team, Anthony has averaged 16.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 31.6 minutes per contest. The Blazers were 5-9 before signing him and have gone 5-7 since.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division tonight:

  • People close to Thunder general manager Sam Presti believe his relationship with owner Clay Bennett is respectful enough that Presti could leave the organization before his contract expires if he wants to, tweets Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. Presti and other prominent executives such as Raptors president Masai Ujiri have been linked to the Knicks in rumors throughout the year, especially with league observers beginning to question the job security of current Knicks president Steve Mills.
  • Thunder guard Chris Paul has served as a mentor to Darius Bazley this season, helping the 19-year-old adjust to his first season in the league, Olivia Panchal of DailyThunder.com writes. “It’s been great because [Paul] teaches you so much,” Bazley said. “Even though we were just playing one-on-one, he was stopping and just saying you can do this or you can do that. It just helps because [he] gives you advice on and off the court.”
  • Nick Kosmider of The Athletic examines the Nuggets’ situation with the trade deadline less than two months away, detailing how the team has plenty of depth to offer in deals and could seek draft compensation in return. Denver sports a competitive team geared around All-Star center Nikola Jokic, recording a 17-8 record through 25 games.

Northwest Notes: SGA, Vonleh, MPJ, Gallinari

New Thunder point guard Chris Paul has changed the way the team’s other new point guard, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, thinks about defense, Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman relays. “Everybody’s always talking about offense, offense, offense,” Paul said in November, “but the biggest thing I’m talking to him about is defense.”

Gilgeous-Alexander told Lee that before Paul, no one had “really sat me down and shown me how to read (an opposing team’s) offense the same way you read a defense on the opposite end.” Paul is a nine-time All-Defensive Team selection. The Thunder are currently 11-12, good for the No. 7 seed in a top-heavy Western Conference.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Wolves center Noah Vonleh has been relegated to the bench a lot lately, tallying eight healthy scratches in the last 10 games heading into tonight’s contest against the Jazz (he has yet to play tonight, too). Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune details Vonleh’s plight. The forward signed a one-year, $2MM contract with Minnesota expecting an opportunity to play, but thus far has seen sparse playing time.
  • In Denver, Nuggets small forward Michael Porter Jr. is struggling to carve out a bench role for himself, and seeking clarity on his usage in coach Mike Malone‘s system.. The No. 14 draft pick in 2018, Porter got some meaningful spot minutes during the first half of last night’s 97-92 loss to the Sixers. But he was passed over in the third quarter in favor of fellow small forwards Torrey Craig and Juan Hernangomez“Yeah, I need to talk to coach again,” Porter told The Denver Post’s Mike Singer. “When we’re more mentally prepared about when we’re coming in, what he’s thinking for certain games.”
  • With most summer contracts eligible to be traded come December 15th, Thunder power forward Danilo Gallinari and his expiring $22.6MM contract have been the talk of the NBA town. One possible suitor, the Trail Blazers, could use Gallinari as their starting four in a 2020 playoff push. HoopsHype’s Bryan Kalbrosky details the versatile scorer’s potential fit in Portland.

O’Connor’s Latest: Thunder, Blazers, Love, Iguodala, More

As we relayed earlier this morning, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reported that the Rockets have “serious interest” in Timberwolves wing Robert Covington. That tidbit was just one of many in a longer article jam-packed with notes and observations on the NBA’s trade market, so let’s round up some of the other highlights from O’Connor’s piece…

  • As expected, Thunder veterans Chris Paul, Steven Adams, and Danilo Gallinari are all available, league sources tell O’Connor. However, as Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Monday, Oklahoma City also seems willing to take on bad contracts and unwanted money, according to O’Connor, who hears that getting out of tax territory isn’t necessarily a priority for the club. The Thunder don’t anticipate a major tax bill this season and know they won’t be back over that line in future years, so they’re willing to live with a slightly bigger penalty this season if it means acquiring extra assets.
  • Speaking of Gallinari, the Trail Blazers are expected to pursue the Thunder forward, league sources tell The Ringer. O’Connor also hears that Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love would like to play for his hometown team in Portland.
  • O’Connor identifies the following teams as ones that appear most open to trading late first-round or early second-round draft picks: The Bucks, Raptors, Clippers, Celtics, Sixers, and Mavericks. Some of those clubs hold other teams’ picks and could dangle those in trade talks. For instance, Milwaukee owns Indiana’s lottery-protected first-rounder; Philadelphia has New York’s and Atlanta’s second-rounders; and Dallas controls Golden State’s second-rounder.
  • League sources tell O’Connor that Davis Bertans (Wizards), Marvin Williams (Hornets), J.J. Redick (Pelicans), and Marcus Morris (Knicks) are among the veterans who are candidates to be dealt before the deadline. Redick likely won’t be moved, but multiple execs believe New Orleans could strongly consider the idea if the right offer comes along.
  • O’Connor hears that there’s “no world” in which the Grizzlies buy out Andre Iguodala. Memphis will trade him — it’s just a matter of when and where, says O’Connor. A source tells The Ringer that the Grizzlies are open to any type of trade package, even if it means taking back a multiyear contract.

Chris Paul Was “Shocked” By Trade To Thunder

Chris Paul tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated that he was “shocked” at the trade that sent him to Oklahoma City this summer and insists Rockets general manager Daryl Morey promised him it wouldn’t happen.

After being knocked out of the playoffs by the Warriors for a second straight year, Houston jumped at the chance to shake up its roster by acquiring Russell Westbrook from the Thunder. That meant shipping out Paul and a parcel of draft picks.

“My initial reaction?” Paul said. “I was shocked. Truth be told, I just talked to Daryl a couple days before the trade and he said he wasn’t going to trade me (to Oklahoma City). That’s funny because that is going to be the alert that pops up on everybody’s phone because nobody knows that. But what the hell, I just said it.”

Morey refused to respond to Paul’s comment, but sources close to the team told Spears that the GM informed Paul there was a “slim chance” he might be included in a Westbrook deal. Morey was hoping to make it a three-team trade and send Paul to a playoff contender such as the Heat, but no one else was willing to get involved. He also thanked Paul for his contributions to the franchise.

“Chris got us as close to winning a title as we’ve been since Hakeem Olajuwon,” Morey said. “He was a great Rocket. I wish him the best going forward. I am a big fan of Chris. I have nothing but love for him.”

Paul said his time in Houston marked two of the best seasons of his career. However, they ended in an apparent falling out with James Harden during last season’s playoffs that had many believing a breakup was coming. Paul admits he and Harden “haven’t really talked” since the trade was completed.

“It’s life. It happens,” Paul said. “It is what it is. But I wish him nothing but the best.”

The next question for Paul is how long he will be with the Thunder, who are off to an 8-11 start and appear ready to rebuild after trading Westbrook and Paul George. Although the market will open up December 15 when most of the free agents who signed this summer become eligible to be traded, Paul’s contract remains a major impediment. He makes $38.5MM this season at age 34 and is owed roughly $85.5MM over the following two seasons. Spears notes that many teams are already trying to save cap space for the next loaded free agent class in 2021.

“I try to control what I can control,” Paul said. “And for me, that is preparing to play every night. Doing my workout. Doing my training. Hooping.”