Chris Paul

Western Notes: Mavs, Kings, Wolves, Jazz

We’re less than 17 hours away from the trade deadline. While we wait to see what unfolds, check out some notes and rumors out of the Western Conference:

  • Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut are rumored to be on the move and the Mavericks held both of them out of practice today, Earl K. Sneed of Fox Sports relays via Twitter“With the trade deadline tomorrow, you can read a lot into that,” coach Rick Carlisle said.
  • If the Mavericks make a deal involving Williams or Bogut, it’s likely to occur right before Thursday’s deadline, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes. The team is looking for picks in the upcoming draft in exchange for their veterans.
  • The Kings are likely to move someone in their backcourt, Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee tweets. Voisin hears that the Pacers have interest in acquiring Arron Afflalo.
  • The Jazz have had conversations with other teams regarding a Derrick Favors trade, but a source told Spencer Checketts of 1280 KZNS (Twitter link) that the team doesn’t view any offer as “even close” to being fair.
  • Wolves executive/coach Tom Thibodeau said the team is still looking at trade possibilities, but as of right now, he doesn’t see any deal that makes sense for the franchise, Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press writes. “If there’s something that makes sense that can make you better, then you take a look at it. If not, I’m happy with the team we have. I like the guys we have. I like the approach we have,” Thibodeau said.
  • Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Chris Paul has been medically cleared to return to the court and he may play as early as Thursday, Andrew Han of ESPN.com relays.

Kyler’s Latest: CP3, Holiday, Lowry, G. Hill, Gibson

Chris Paul and the Clippers essentially have a verbal agreement in place for a new contract this summer, sources close to the process tell Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Although the star point guard is technically eligible for an extension now, he can get a longer-term – and more lucrative – deal by re-signing with the club in July.

A verbal agreement isn’t binding, so things could change between now and July, but Paul has always been viewed as likely to remain in Los Angeles. As Kyler notes, the 31-year-old will be eligible to sign a new five-year contract worth more than $200MM this offseason, so as long as the Clippers are willing to put that offer on the table – and it seems they are – there’s virtually no chance of CP3 changing teams.

Kyler’s latest Basketball Insiders piece also features several other interesting tidbits related to players on expiring contracts, so let’s round up a few of the highlights…

  • Other free agent point guards who are strong bets to re-sign with their current teams: Stephen Curry (Warriors), Jrue Holiday (Pelicans), and Kyle Lowry (Raptors). According to Kyler, New Orleans is prepared to offer Holiday the max, or something close to it, while Toronto is willing to make a similar offer to Lowry, as long as he wants to remain with the team.
  • Like Paul, teammates Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick are viewed as highly likely to re-sign with the Clippers this summer, per Kyler. The Thunder were mentioned at one point as a potential suitor for Griffin, but OKC has since added a ton of salary to its 2017/18 books, and Kyler suggests that Griffin was never all that interest in returning to Oklahoma, where he played his college ball.
  • Sources close to the George Hill situation say the point guard is very happy in Utah. There’s mutual interest in a new deal this offseason between Hill and the Jazz, but it remains to be seen how high the team will be willing to go with its offer, Kyler writes.
  • According to Kyler, the Bulls are interested in re-signing free-agent-to-be Taj Gibson, but there’s a belief that he’ll want to explore other options in free agency, which makes Chicago’s decision this week a little trickier — the club won’t want to risk losing him for nothing.
  • Although Derrick Rose is viewed as very available, his contract will make it difficult to move him, since the Knicks want to maintain cap flexibility, says Kyler.
  • For a few more notes on players with expiring contracts, be sure to check out Kyler’s full piece.

LeBron, Love, Lue Respond To Latest Trade Rumors

While teams and players often avoid directly responding to individual trade rumors and reports, members of the Cavaliers wasted no time in shooting down a Monday rumor involving Kevin Love. After The New York Daily News reported that LeBron James was pushing the Cavs to acquire Carmelo Anthony, even if it meant giving up Love, team and league sources told other outlets that it wasn’t true, and the Cavs publicly pushed back after their dramatic win over the Wizards.

“It’s trash,” James said of the report, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. “And the guy who wrote it is trash too, for writing that, especially during the game like that. So it’s always about outside noise and that’s just outside noise for us. We got to focus on what needs to be done and that’s to continue to compete for a championship. And we got who we got. Our GM (David Griffin) will do a great job of figuring out if we need something else, but right now we’re in a good place.”

Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue suggested that Love should be flattered that other teams want him, but said the big man isn’t going anywhere, and the latest rumors are “not coming from our end.” As for Love, after perhaps his best game of the season, in which he racked up 39 points and 12 rebounds, he was happy to laugh off Monday’s report.

“What do they say?” Love said. “‘A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put his pants on.’ So, it’s a lie. … It’s almost laughable. I’m on this team. I’m going to be on this team. And we want to win with the guys that we have.”

Love indicated last week that he expected to remain with the Cavs for “a long time,” and even though reports at the time suggested that he wasn’t entirely untouchable, a trade is viewed as highly unlikely. The Cavs reportedly have some interest in Anthony, but aren’t actively looking to trade for the Knicks forward, despite New York’s continued pursuit of Love.

While Monday’s story from the Daily News was roundly denied both privately and publicly by Cavs sources, it’s worth noting that Frank Isola wasn’t the only reporter with the scoop. Keith Smith of RealGM.com (Twitter link) also heard from league sources that LeBron has pushed Cleveland to acquire Anthony “at any cost” — Chris Paul has taken a similar approach with the Clippers, per Smith.

The Cavs’ strong and aggressive denial of the report suggests that Love almost certainly isn’t going anywhere, particularly in a deal for Anthony. But the fact that multiple reporters heard from reliable sources that LeBron might be pushing for such a trade means that info is coming from somewhere. It will be interesting to see what moves – if any – Griffin and the Cavs ultimately make in the coming weeks.

Knicks, Clippers Seeking Third Trade Partner?

7:50 pm: Sam Amick of USA Today reports that J.J. Redick is not believed to be involved in any trade talks (Twitter link). If Redick is out of the mix, talks figure to focus on Austin Rivers and a potential third team.

5:47 pm: The Knicks and Clippers are looking for a third team to complete a potential Carmelo Anthony trade, according to Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPN. One of three players in the NBA with a no-trade clause, Anthony has been linked to the Clippers, Celtics, and Cavaliers over the past week.

The Knicks’ most substantive Anthony trade discussions have come with the Clippers, Shelburne and Stein note, after the Cavaliers rebuffed a Kevin Love-for-Anthony swap. None of the Clippers’ big three – Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan – would be available via trade, and with the recent injury to Paul, the team would be hesitant to deal any of their healthy guards.

Various factors have contributed to the search for a third trade partner. If Jamal Crawford were to be involved in a trade, the Knicks wouldn’t want to absorb the three years and $42MM left on his contract after 2016/17. What’s more, Anthony’s 15% trade kicker would be difficult for Los Angeles to accommodate, since the team is nearing its hard cap.

The market has been slow for Anthony, sources tell Shelburne and Stein, in large part due to the limited number of teams Anthony would be willing to join via trade. Anthony, who has two years and $53MM left on his contract after this season, recently conceded to Al Iannazzone of Newsday that he’d consider leaving New York under the right circumstances.

If the Clippers were to make a deal, Austin Rivers may need to be included, and head coach Doc Rivers told Rachel Nichols of ESPN that he’d be willing trade his son if need be. “If you think you can make your team better, you make your team better,” Rivers said. “That’s my job. Listen, I would trade anyone. You have to be willing to do that, so – and he would be one of them, and any of them would be one. But I don’t want to trade any of our guys. I like our team.”

Clippers Notes: Paul, Rivers, Griffin

J.J. Redick said Chris Paul‘s “spirits are good” after undergoing thumb surgery today, relays Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Paul is expected to be out of action for six to eight weeks with the injury that he suffered Monday against the Thunder. The Clippers are hoping to get Blake Griffin back soon from minor knee surgery in December, and coach Doc Rivers said he will adjust the rotation until everyone is healthy. “We still have new guys — Alan [Anderson] is new and Raymond [Felton] is new and Mo [Marreese Speights] and Brandon [Bass],” Rivers said. “This is a good opportunity for them to learn how to execute together. When everyone is back, when you get Chris and Blake back, if this group can execute … I think it makes us better in the long run. This is not the way you want to do it, but this is the way it’s been presented.”

There’s more Clippers news from Los Angeles:

  • Rivers, who also serves as president of basketball operations, said the team may consider some roster moves to help ease the loss of Paul, Turner adds in the same story. L.A. has four healthy guards right now and three of them — Redick, Felton and Austin Rivers — are starters. “We can’t always do something,” Rivers said about a potential move. “But we always look.”
  • Paul’s injury could doom the last shot at playoff success for this current group of Clippers, writes Chris Mannix of The Vertical. L.A. is fourth in the West at 29-14, but could easily fall behind Utah, Oklahoma City and Memphis while Paul is sidelined. That would mean a first-round series without home court advantage. If the Clippers are bounced from the playoffs early again, they may decide not to keep both Paul and Griffin, who can both become free agents this summer. Re-signing them would push the team payroll to around $150MM, plus about $100MM in luxury tax penalties. Mannix notes that Rivers may not want to coach a rebuilding team, something he wasn’t willing to do in Boston, especially with the Clippers not having first-round picks this year or in 2019.
  • The loss of Paul probably kills any chance of a Griffin trade, according to Mitch Lawrence of Forbes.

Chris Paul Out 6-8 Weeks

6:49pm: Paul is expected to undergo surgery to repair the torn ligament, according to ESPN.

6:20pm: Superstar guard Chris Paul has torn a ligament in his left thumb, tweets Dan Woike of the Orange County Register, and is expected to miss six to eight weeks of action for the Clippers.

After leaving Monday’s game against the Thunder early, basic X-Rays came back negative. On Tuesday, Paul was sent for an MRI which revealed the damage to the ligament in his left hand.

In 36 games this year, Paul has averaged 17.5 points and 9.7 assists per game. He’s played a characteristically massive role in the Clippers’ bid for a home-court berth in the Western Conference playoff picture. Even without Blake Griffin since mid-December, Los Angeles has managed to compile a 29-14 record.

Paul is signed to a $22.9MM contract this season and has an early termination option for the final year of his contract next season. Should he return within the quote timetable, he’ll be back on the court for Los Angeles between late February and mid-March.

The news that Paul will miss significant time comes on the heels of reports that the team will soon expect Griffin to make his return.

Pacific Notes: Casspi, Paul, Griffin, Nance

The Kings will be without forward Omri Casspi for up to two weeks, writes Matt Kawahara of the Sacramento Bee. Casspi injured his calf on Monday and underwent an MRI later that night.

Said to have strained the plantaris tendon in his right calf, Casspi will look to get back to action as soon as possible in an effort to reclaim his spot in the team’s rotation. Casspi has seen his role fluctuate over the course of the season and has appeared in just six of the Kings’ last 15 games.

In 22 games for the Kings this year, Casspi has averaged 5.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per.

Elsewhere in the Pacific Division:

  • Another injury has hit the Clippers, this time point guard Chris Paul. After leaving Monday’s game with a thumb injury, Paul underwent a basic X-Ray which came back negative. The guard was scheduled to have an MRI performed on Tuesday to determine the extent of the injury. “That’s the one injury we get,” head coach Doc Rivers told Rowan Kavner of the Clippers’ official site. “You know the pain. I’m sure CP was thinking the worst at the time. He’s already got pretty good news with the normal X-ray being negative. You’ve just got to hope for the best.”
  • Fortunately for the Clippers, good news continues to trickle in about Blake Griffin. “He looks like he’s explosive again,” Rivers told “He looks like he’s explosive again.” Per Woike, Griffin is expected to travel with the team on a three-game road trip starting on Saturday.
  • It seemed as though Larry Nance Jr. was nearing his return to the court for the Lakers, but head coach Luke Walton isn’t so sure. “It doesn’t look like he’s going to be back at least this week,” Walton told Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. Later adding: “If he can do two straight practices without pain, he’ll be good to play.”
  • The Warriors broke ground on their new arena today and team owner Joe Lacob spoke about the organization’s decision to fund the project themselves via increased ticket sales, increased sponsorship and other new revenue streams. “I don’t want to criticize other owners or other teams, in our league or anywhere else. But there is a history of these leagues getting these things publicly financed,” Lacob told Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. “[…] I know that wasn’t going to happen here, just because it’s the Bay Area. I decided, ‘We’re just going to do it and we’re going to figure out a way to pay for it.’

Pacific Notes: Barnes, Paul, Warriors, Kerr

Matt Barnes has become a veteran leader since signing with the Kings in July, but he entered free agency expecting to return to the Clippers, relays Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Barnes spent three years with the Clippers before being traded to Charlotte after the 2014/15 season. Ten days later, he was shipped to Memphis in another deal. Even though coach Doc Rivers opted to get rid of him, Barnes was expecting a reunion this summer. “I thought it was a done deal, I was going to the Clippers,” Barnes said. “The day before I was supposed to meet with Doc, they decided to go in another direction with Wesley Johnson. That was obviously my first choice at the time, to be close to my kids. Golden State was always a choice; they just didn’t have very much money. I’ve always been the guy to take less money to play on a better team, but the price gap was too far on this one.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Chris Paul‘s return has boosted the Clippers‘ confidence as they try to fight back from their recent six-game losing streak, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Paul believes he is finally over the left hamstring problems that sidelined him for seven of the past eight games. “I want to hoop, regardless,” Paul said. “But the toughest thing is when you can’t. Ain’t no point coming out there and not being you and hurt the team.”
  • Friday’s meltdown against the Grizzlies is part of an ongoing problem for the Warriors, writes Anthony Slater of The San Jose Mercury News. Even with a 31-6 record, Golden State has been outscored by 15 points this season in the fourth quarter and overtime. The Warriors have played 38 clutch minutes since December began and have been outscored by 21 points. “We’re not used to these fourth quarter struggles,” said coach Steve Kerr. “We’ve really closed teams well the last couple years. So it feels different. It feels weird.”
  • Kerr has a lot of work ahead to turn a wealth of talent into a “super team” in time for the playoffs, contends Marcus Thompson II of The Mercury News. Thompson argues that the free agent signing of Kevin Durant disrupted team chemistry and says Kerr has three months to restore it.

Pacific News: Clippers, Afflalo, Pachulia

The Clippers may be turning the corner, at least as far as their health is concerned. Superstar point guard Chris Paul has missed seven of the last contests but is expected to be back in the lineup uninhibited on Friday, says Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Daily News.

A return from Paul, coupled with news that rookie Brice Johnson has been cleared for contact, will give Clippers head coach Doc Rivers that much more confidence heading into the middle portion of the season. Johnson is a power forward out of North Carolina that Los Angeles drafted with the 25th overall pick last summer.

Additionally, Woike writes that Blake Griffin is expected to make his own return to the Clippers later this month.

Also out of the Pacific Division:

  • It wasn’t long ago when Arron Afflalo‘s future with the Kings looked to be in doubt. Now the veteran has upped his standing in the team’s rotation. “I’ve evolved into getting over myself,” Afflalo told the Sacramento Bee’s Jason Jones. “We have a great opportunity as a team – playoff position. There will be nights where I can perform at a level I was expected to perform at, and there will be nights where other guys take the lead.”
  • Things haven’t always gone well for Shaun Livingston since he was drafted in 2004, but he’s settled into a great role with a dominant Warriors team. The veteran point guard spoke with Basketball Insiders’ Michael Scotto about his career thus far and his future. “I’d love to stay [with Golden State].” he said, “It’s been home for me, the Bay has welcomed me with open arms. I love it out there. But, we’ll see what happens. Obviously, decisions have to be made and you just roll with the punches.”
  • The NBA recently changed how All-Stars are to be selected and it’s already foiled Warriors big man Zaza Pachulia‘s second consecutive campaign as a dark horse possibility, tweets Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post.

 

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Clippers, Knight, Curry

The Lakers and Clippers began to reverse fortunes in 2011 when then-Commissioner David Stern blocked a trade for Chris Paul, writes Mark Heisler of The Los Angeles Daily News. New Orleans had worked out a three-team deal that would have sent Paul to the Lakers, but because the franchise was being run by the league at the time, Stern had the power as a representative of ownership to stop it. The Clippers stepped in with an offer of Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman and Minnesota’s unprotected draft pick, which landed them a franchise point guard.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Changes in the new collective bargaining agreement will force the Lakers to alter the way they have historically operated, Heisler contends in the same piece. Star players have more incentive than ever to stay with their current teams, meaning that any advantages that L.A. once had in free agency will be further neutralized. Heisler lists the top players expected to be on the free agent market in 2017 and contends that every one will remain where they are.
  • The Kings have been talking to the Suns about a possible deal for Brandon Knight for several months, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. Appearing on a podcast with Zach Lowe, Windhorst said Sacramento is looking for help at point guard and has been talking to Phoenix about Knight since the summer. Knight still has three seasons and nearly $44MM left on his current deal.
  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr called out his team in general and two-time MVP Stephen Curry in particular for poor decisions in today’s loss to the Cavaliers, relays Chris Haynes of ESPN. Golden State had 20 turnovers leading to 21 Cleveland points in the 109-108 loss. “A lot of [the turnovers] early was not even due to the pressure,” Kerr said. “It was more just decision-making. Around-the-back passes in the paint, silly plays. We just have to make simple plays, and we talk about that all the time, but we’ve got to make it more of a habit.”
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