Paul George

Pacific Notes: George, Kings, Wiggins, Lakers

Paul George will see an increased workload this year, but it may not start with Monday’s preseason opener, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. As George enters the first year of his contract extension, the Clippers will count on him to provide more scoring, defense and leadership with Kawhi Leonard possibly out for the season. However, coach Tyronn Lue hasn’t decided who will play in the first preseason game, saying he wants to talk to “a couple of our guys and just kind of see how they feel.”

George, who dealt with a bruised bone in his right foot during the second half of last season, pronounced himself “pretty healthy” at Saturday’s practice. He told reporters that he took “a lot of time” away from basketball during the summer in anticipation of his increased workload.

George has also become more of a team leader, working out with several teammates during the offseason.

“I’ve grown in that area, just from the standpoint of being a little more vocal, and just wanting to be involved, wanting to put things together,” George said. “I definitely see myself growing in that area. But, again, all of it really came down to it just being organic. Fact of the matter, I like missed being around this group.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Kings coach Luke Walton is reviewing his options for a starting lineup ahead of his team’s preseason opener Monday, per Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Richaun Holmes and Harrison Barnes appear set, according to Anderson, so Walton’s decision will likely come down to whether he wants to start Buddy Hield in a three-guard approach or Marvin Bagley III in a more traditional set. Walton’s options stem from Barnes’ ability to handle either forward position. “There are definitely scenarios where (Barnes) could start at the 3 or the 4,” Walton said. “He’s one of those players that has the ability to do both of those things. He’s a matchup nightmare when he’s at the 4 and him and De’Aaron are able to play that 1-4 pick-and-roll, peel-out game, and he’s strong enough to guard a lot of 4s, so that’s definitely a possibility.”
  • Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle examines whether Andrew Wiggins‘ vaccine decision could derail the Warriors‘ hopes of being title contenders. Wiggins missed Saturday’s practice with an undisclosed illness, and coach Steve Kerr said there was nothing new to report on his vaccination status.
  • Former WNBA player Shay Murphy has joined the Lakers as a coaching associate, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

Clippers Notes: Bledsoe, Winslow, Vaccinations, Drame

Eric Bledsoe hasn’t played for the Clippers since 2013, but the team is optimistic that the point guard will fit right back into Los Angeles’ rotation in 2021/22, writes Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. Head coach Tyronn Lue said on Tuesday that he expects Bledsoe to be part of L.A.’s starting lineup alongside Paul George, Marcus Morris, Reggie Jackson, and Ivica Zubac.

The last time Bledsoe was a Clipper, he was an up-and-comer who was stuck behind Chris Paul on the depth chart and was trying to prove he earned more playing time. He’ll have a larger role this time around, but the 11-year veteran told reporters he’s prepared to do whatever the club asks of him.

“I’m coming in as a veteran player now in a different role … just help the team out the best way I can,” Bledsoe said. “Whether guarding the best player one night, spot up next night, get downhill, whatever the case is, cheering my teammates on. So whatever the case may be, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Both Lue and Jackson spoke this week about how they envision the Clippers benefiting from Bledsoe’s ability to put pressure on the defense and attack the paint.

“He’s gonna be a big boost for us,” Lue said. “I think he’ll be able to push that pace and push that tempo, and get guys easy shots. That’s what we have to do in transition.”

Here’s more on the Clippers:

  • Bobby Marks of ESPN provides a minor update on Bledsoe’s contract, tweeting that the veteran guard and the Clippers agreed to push back his salary guarantee date for 2022/23. Bledsoe currently has a partial guarantee of $3.9MM on his $19.4MM salary for next season — his salary will now become fully guaranteed four days after the July moratorium instead of on June 30, creating some additional offseason flexibility for the franchise.
  • Health issues have limited Justise Winslow to just 37 total games over the last two seasons, but the new Clippers forward said on Tuesday that he has felt fully healthy for the last two or three months, tweets Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Winslow added that he wouldn’t wish his hip injury on anyone.
  • Lue said on Wednesday that all the players on the Clippers’ roster are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (video link via Greif).
  • The Clippers are mourning the death of Assane Drame, who joined the team in 2019 as a video intern and had since become a video assistant in the team’s digital content group. Drame died in a car accident on Monday night after working hours earlier at the team’s Media Day, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. We at Hoops Rumors send our condolences to Drame’s family and friends.

Clippers Notes: Ibaka, Zubac, Leonard, George

Clippers big man Serge Ibaka, whose 2020/21 season was sidetracked by a back injury, says he’s close to 100% heading into camp, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tweets. The next step for Ibaka will be to participate in contact practices. His season-ending surgery in June cleaned up a disc, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Ibaka, who regrets not getting the surgery sooner, still has no timetable for his return to action.

We have more on the Clippers:

  • Ivica Zubac, who was slowed by a right knee MCL sprain during the Western Conference Finals, says he’s felt 100% for about six weeks heading into camp, Greif tweets. The team holds a $7.52MM option on his contract for next season.
  • Kawhi Leonard could have signed a two-year, $80.6MM contract with a player option rather than the four-year, $176.3MM deal with a player option he accepted. Leonard said he chose the longer deal in part because he hopes to return from his knee injury before season’s end, according to Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register“One thing, I wanted to secure some money,” he said. “And I wanted to be able to come back if I was able to this year. If I would have took the one-and-one, I probably would have not played just to be cautious and opted out and took a five-year.” Leonard added that he doesn’t expect to change teams unless “something drastic” happens, so he was comfortable locking in a long-term contract.
  • With Leonard out of action, Paul George vows to be the team’s leader, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes. “I’m looking forward to taking on all facets, whether it’s scoring, defending, playmaking. I’m looking forward to taking on the whole facet of the game,” George said. “I’m really going into this year as this being one of my most complete seasons as far as doing a little bit of everything. I think I proved it and showed i to myself during the playoffs in that run, that stretch against Phoenix, whether it was rebounding, pushing the tempo, playmaking, scoring the ball. That really just fed my appetite even more.”

Western Notes: Leonard, George, Mavericks, Jazz, Ainge, Suns

Despite Kawhi Leonard having the ability to decline his $36MM player option and enter free agency this summer, the pairing of Leonard and Paul George is likely to continue with the Clippers, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times opines.

Leonard and George remain one of the league’s most formidable duos on both ends of the floor. This season’s run was cut short due to Leonard’s knee injury in round two, with the Clippers subsequently losing 4-2 to the Suns in the Western Conference Finals.

“We’ve made great connections; I think we’ve both grown, myself and Kawhi, together,” George said after the team’s season-ending loss, as relayed by Greif. “I think we really enjoy being teammates, and we see what we can be and what we can do.

“So, I’m happy. I’m happy to be his teammate. I was very excited. Proud of what we accomplished. … I think we’ve got a good foundation.”

There’s more out of the Western Conference tonight:

  • Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall had an extensive conversation with new head coach Jason Kidd about his 2001 domestic abuse charge before he was hired, Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News writes. Kidd accepted his position with the Mavericks last month. He won a championship with the team in 2011 and most recently served as an assistant coach with the Lakers.
  • Former Celtics president Danny Ainge said that there’s “nothing going on” between him and the Jazz at this point, despite rumors he could join the team as an advisor, per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Ainge recently departed from the Celtics after nearly two decades with the franchise.
  • Mark Faller of The Arizona Republic examines how the Suns went from 19 wins in 2018/19 to the NBA Finals this season, calling it the best turnaround story in sports. Phoenix, led by a star backcourt of Chris Paul and Devin Booker, will play Milwaukee in Game 1 of the Finals on Tuesday.

Clippers Notes: Jackson, Cousins, What-Ifs, Offseason Recruiting

This season wasn’t easy for Clippers guard Reggie Jackson, but it was ultimately rewarding, writes Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. From inconsistent early-season minutes to averaging over 20 PPG in the Western Conference Finals as one of the few sources of consistent offense next to Paul George, Jackson was able to find his footing, first on the court, and second with the team.

This year was my best year, the most challenging year, the most fun year,” Jackson said. “Not sure I was going to play. Ups and downs. Guys were injured. Still found my way into this locker room. First thing I told these guys was, ‘Thank you for saving me.’”

What comes next for Jackson, who is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, is still unclear, but he seems set up for a solid payday after his successful postseason run.

We have more on the Clippers:

  • According to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, DeMarcus Cousins regularly asks himself, “Do you still want to play in the NBA?” After battling injuries the last couple years, Cousins has had to fight for a spot on a team multiple teams. “That goes through my mind probably once every other day,” Cousins said. “This s–t is hard, bro. It’s hard knowing what you can do. It’s hard believing in yourself when nobody else believes in you.” After going from max contracts to veteran minimums, the journey hasn’t been easy, but Cousins believes he can still play in the NBA going forward.
  • It’s hard for Paul George to not think about what could have been if Kawhi Leonard didn’t get injured, writes ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk, especially when the Clippers lost Games Two and Four by a combined five points. “We’d be going on,” George said. “This series would be a lot different.” George was also honest about the team not doing enough in Leonard’s absence, and confident about his partnership with Kawhi moving forward. “I think we’ve both grown, myself and Kawhi together,” George said. “I think we really enjoy being teammates, and we see what we can be and what we can do.”
  • George plans to be active recruiting players this summer, as well as trying to keep this year’s team together, writes Jim Alexander of The OC Register. “Hopefully this is where they want to continue to play and grow and be something and do something special in the long run,” he said. “Yeah, I’m definitely going to try my hardest to recruit.”
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks lays out the offseason blueprint for the Clippers. He looks at Leonard’s free agency, including the risks of signing the All-NBA forward to a long-term deal, as well as what the team can offer free agents Jackson and Nicolas Batum.

Pacific Notes: Clippers, Leonard, Warriors, Lakers

The Clippers overcame deficits to get past the Mavericks and Jazz, but they admit it’s a bigger challenge to be on the brink of elimination in the Western Conference Finals, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. After losing at home to the Suns Saturday night, L.A. will need three straight wins to salvage its season, starting Monday at Phoenix.

“Definitely a different feeling,” Terance Mann said. “There’s no room for error. Just got to take it a game at a time now. Just got to try and go get Game 5 and be ready to try to force a Game 7.”

Shooting was the biggest issue for the Clippers in Game 4 as they connected at a 32.5% rate from the field and were just 5 of 31 from three-point range. They had 12 chances in the fourth quarter to tie or take the lead, but weren’t able to convert any of them.

“Just got to take it one game at a time. Just focus on Monday’s game, that’s it,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “Not focus on winning three games. Got to take it one game at a time, and that’s got to be our mindset. We beat Utah and won four games in a row. So it’s very doable. We’ve just got to make sure we’re locked in and understand what we’re doing offensively.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Kawhi Leonard is considered unlikely to return for Game 5, and Clippers teammate Paul George believes that’s the best decision, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Leonard hasn’t played since suffering a knee injury nearly two weeks ago. “I can’t speak for him, to the health of Kawhi,” George said. “If he’s not 100 (percent), we don’t want him out there. I mean, that’s just as a brother, as a teammate. His health long term is more important than what’s going on now.”
  • Landing the No. 7 pick in Tuesday’s lottery adds to the return the Warriors got in the deal that sent D’Angelo Russell to Minnesota for Andrew Wiggins, notes Josh Schrock of NBC Sports Bay Area. Russell was acquired from the Nets in a sign-and-trade for Kevin Durant, but he wasn’t in Golden State’s long-term plans. The Warriors were able to flip him to the Timberwolves for Wiggins, who is a better fit, and got valuable draft compensation as well.
  • Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times examines the benefits of the sale of a minority stake in the Lakers to Dodgers owners Mark Walter and Todd Boehly.

Middleton, Love, Holiday Expected To Play For U.S. Olympic Team

2:22pm: Paul won’t play for Team USA after all, according to Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that the Suns point guard has declined an invitation to join the squad for the Tokyo games.

However, Bucks guard Jrue Holiday has committed to Team USA, per Wojnarowski (via Twitter). He’ll take the backcourt spot that CP3 would’ve occupied, leaving one open spot on the tentative roster.

11:39am: USA Basketball continues to secure commitments for the Tokyo Olympics, according to reports from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Bucks guard/forward Khris Middleton and Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love have committed to play for Team USA in Tokyo, their agents at Excel Basketball tell Wojnarowski. Meanwhile, sources inform Charania that Suns point guard Chris Paul plans to commit to the team as well.

The new series of additions means Team USA’s Olympic roster is now up to 11 tentative commitments, as follows:

Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell turned down an invite from USA Basketball, opting to use the offseason for recovery and rehab following his right ankle injury, tweets Wojnarowski. After a few weeks of deliberation, Warriors star Stephen Curry has also decided not to represent Team USA in Tokyo, Charania notes (via Twitter). So neither Mitchell nor Curry will fill the 12th and final spot on the squad.

That 12th spot may be reserved for Paul George, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Before CP3’s commitment was reported, Vardon wrote that the Suns guard and the Clippers forward would be the favorites to get spots on Team USA if they’re willing to play.

Of course, the Suns and Clippers remain alive in the postseason, and at least one of them will be playing in the NBA Finals until at least mid-July. As Vardon relays, Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo said that Booker intends to play in Tokyo even if the Suns make it to the Finals and have to play a seven-game series. It’s unclear if Paul – and George, if he commits – will take a similar position.

Clippers Notes: Mann, Leonard, Lue, George

In the most important game in Clippers‘ history, the hero was a second-year swingman whose name may be unfamiliar to most NBA fans, writes Marcus Thompson II of The AthleticTerance Mann scored a career-high 39 points in Friday’s close-out win over the Jazz, connecting on 15-of-21 shots from the field and 7-of-10 from three-point range.

Mann, who played a combined 9:10 in the first two games of the series, sparked the L.A. comeback Friday with 20 points in the third quarter as the Clippers advanced to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history. His shooting success enabled coach Tyronn Lue to stick with a smaller lineup that left Utah scrambling to defend the perimeter.

“When you trust your work, you trust in yourself,” Mann said, “you’re not surprised when any of this happens.”

There’s more on the Clippers:

  • There’s still hope that injured forward Kawhi Leonard can rejoin the team sometime during the conference finals, but Lue said he’s preparing to go through the series without him, tweets Mark Medina of USA Today. Leonard, who injured his knee on Monday, didn’t travel with the team to Phoenix and has been ruled out of Sunday’s Game 1. “We can’t have hypotheticals and think he’s coming back one game,” Lue said. “No. We have to prepare like he’s not playing, and just kind of go from there.”
  • Paul George enjoyed his first playoff game with a capacity crowd in his hometown of Los Angeles, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Last year’s postseason took place at the Disney World complex in Orlando, and COVID-19 restrictions prevented the Clippers from filling their arena until Friday night. “This was my first time experiencing a crowd like this,” George said. “It was just a special night. You felt it, the cheers, the excitement. You felt the monkey off of the Clippers’ back in terms of getting out of the second round.”
  • Josh Robbins of The Athletic talks to an anonymous coach, scout, and executive from the Western Conference and gets a split decision in their predictions for the conference finals.

Pacific Notes: Paul, Haliburton, Wiseman, George, Kings, Lakers

Suns guard Chris Paul entered the league’s health and safety protocols on Wednesday morning, and has been ruled out indefinitely pending his COVID-19 test results. With the Clippers defeating the Jazz on Saturday night to advance to the Western Conference Finals, head coach Monty Williams and the Suns are now preparing to enter their series against the Clippers without their star point guard.

While Williams wasn’t ready to give up on the idea of Paul playing, he is preparing to have to name another starter and Cameron Payne seems the likely replacement, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

Cam has played with the starters a lot this year,” Williams said. “So it’s not anything that he hasn’t done or he’s not used to. So that part won’t change.”

Payne is coming off a breakout season following a strong performance in last year’s summer restart, and will soon face his biggest test as a pro.

I’m just getting ready like any other series,” said Payne, as reported by Arizona Republic’s Duane Rankin. “Just being ready to play when my name’s called. If I get an opportunity, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I’m ready.”

We have more from around the Pacific Division:

  • Kings rookie guard Tyrese Haliburton is fully healthy and ready to begin his offseason training, he reported on a recent episode of JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast. Haliburton also underwent Lasik eye surgery to avoid needing contacts moving forward, according to James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area.
  • Former Warriors guard Leandro Barbosa weighs in on number two pick James Wiseman‘s rookie season, his struggles and his promise heading into year two, as covered by NBC Sports Bay Area’s Josh Schrock. “It’s complicated, but at the end of the day he’s a talent, he’s a guy that if he works, he’s going to be a very good player,” said Barbosa. “He’s able to do a bit of everything on the court. He’s just gotta understand the offense and the way we like to play.” Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets that there’s still a chance Wiseman works out with Kevin Garnett this offseason, which was the plan before Wiseman suffered a knee injury. “It should still happen. For sure,” says Wiseman.
  • Paul George and the Clippers rallied following news of Kawhi Leonard‘s ACL injury, winning two straight games to advance to the Western Conference Finals. George, who hasn’t reached a Conference Finals since 2014, discussed the relief of getting past the second round, as tweeted by Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. “It was a special night,” George said. “You felt the monkey off of the Clippers’ back in terms of getting out of the second round.”
  • NBC Sports Bay Area’s James Ham discusses the Kings‘ hopes for a little extra luck during Tuesday’s draft lottery. He also suggests that if the Kings fail to move up (they have a 20% chance to jump into the top four), everyone will potentially be available for trades outside of De’Aaron Fox and Haliburton.
  • Following a season ravaged by injuries, the Lakers have decided not to renew the contract of their trainer, reports ESPN’s David McMenamin. Nina Hsieh was hired two years ago after being the head trainer for the Lakers’ G League team. McMenamin says to expect more changes as the Lakers continue to try to revamp their staff to focus on player health.

NBA Announces 2020/2021 All-NBA Teams

The NBA has officially announced the All-NBA First, Second, and Third Teams for the 2020/21 season, with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way as the lone unanimous selection for the First Team.

Antetokounmpo and Nuggets‘ MVP Nikola Jokic were the two top vote-getters, combining for 998 out of a possible 1,000 points, with Warriors guard Stephen Curry following shortly behind. Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard and Mavericks guard Luka Doncic rounding out the top five.

The full All-NBA teams are listed below, with their vote totals in parentheses. Players received five points for a First Team vote, three points for a Second Team vote, and one point for a Third Team vote, so Giannis scored a perfect 500 — First Team nods from all 100 voters.

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

All-NBA Third Team

Among the players who just missed the cut were Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (69), Wizards guard Russell Westbrook (44), Nets guard James Harden (41), Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (37) and Heat center Bam Adebayo (32). A total of 12 other players received votes. The full results can be found here.

Today’s announcement has major financial implications across the league. Tatum, who received more votes than Kyrie Irving but still fell 20 votes short of a final forward spot, will lose out on a projected $32.6MM on his rookie scale extension, as his next deal will start at 25% of the cap instead of the 30% he would have received if he’d been named to an All-NBA team. Likewise, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, Kings guard De’Aaron Fox and Adebayo will all receive starting salaries worth 25% of the cap on their respective extensions as a result of missing out on All-NBA honors.

Doncic, having been named to his second consecutive All-NBA First Team, will be eligible for a 30% extension that would be worth a projected $201MM+ and is almost certain to be offered this summer. Doncic has previously made clear his intentions to sign the extension when offered. It will go into effect for the 2022/23 season.

Embiid is now eligible for a super-max contract extension, which would run for four years, starting in 2023/24, and would be worth a projected $191MM, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. It’s unclear whether the Sixers will immediately put this extension on the table this offseason.

Bradley Beal‘s deal will not change with his first career All-NBA selection, as he is already eligible for a 35% contract extension on his next deal. Jokic, having been named MVP previously this week, also sees no change in his possible future super-max extension, which will be worth approximately $241MM.

Hoops Rumors readers accurately picked 12 of this season’s 15 All-NBA players in our poll. Devin Booker, Adebayo, and Tatum were your picks who didn’t make the official list.