Magic, Nets, Knicks ask about trading for Chris Paul

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nba_paul_250.jpgUPDATE 4:42 pm: The Magic’s offer to get Chris Paul out of New Orleans had to at least make the Hornets pause — Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter for CP3 and James Posey.

That according to FanHouse’s Tim Potvik. That deal would save the Hornets money long term — this is the last year of Carter’s deal — and net them a pretty good player in Nelson.

However, nobody thinks the Hornets are interested. New Orleans has not been for several years now as offers have flowed in before for Paul. Nothing has changed, they say.

8:37 am: LeBron who? Suddenly it is Chris Paul mania in the NBA. Everybody wants to trade for him, since reports surfaced that he is available.

As evidenced, there is the report from Sam Amick at FanHouse that the Orlando Magic have inquired about Paul’s availability from the Hornets. The Daily News reports both the Nets and Knicks have interest, with the Nets even making an offer.

A few quick thoughts. First, calls like this are made all the time in the NBA. Teams call around all the time and ask about this player or that, guys who may well not be available. You need to upgrade at the point you call a team like the Hornets, where talks have apparently stalled to bring in new owner Gary Chouest — it doesn’t take this long to finalize a deal — and the old owner may want to cut more salary. You don’t know who is really available unless you ask, so teams ask. A lot more than you think.

(By the way, if you were a crafty owner looking to sell your team like
George Shinn, but you couldn’t get the new owner to take on as much debt
as you like, would leaking a rumor though a reliable source that Chris
Paul is on the block be a smart move to speed the process along? It
might well be.)

Second, I know what World Wide Wes is saying, but it really makes little sense for the Hornets to part with Chris Paul. Yes, he had some injuries and played just 45 games last year. Yes he makes nearly $15 million this year and $16.3 million next year (with a player option after that), and the Hornets are not a high revenue franchise and the sale talks have stalled. But Paul is the best point guard in the NBA and a guy who is at the heart of the Hornets marketing efforts. Chris Paul sells tickets and wins games. What he makes is a fair price for him (in the inflated NBA-realm of what is fair) and the Hornets would never get real value back.

Next, is it really any shock the Nets or Knicks would be interested? These are two teams looking for a big start to rebuild around and Paul would fit the bill. The Daily News reports that the Nets offered Devin Harris and the No. 3 pick in the draft for Paul, but were shot down.

Finally, the most interesting part of this may be Orlando’s interest. This shows Orlando is thinking the Jameer Nelson/Dwight Howard combo many not be the answer, and if they have to make changes it is not Howard that has to go.

Point guard was actually the weakest position statistically on the Magic last year, for example look at PER generated and PER against (not a perfect measure, but one that gives you some idea). Jason Williams coming off the bench was part of that issue, but it was also with Nelson. Nelson was just a +1.5 per 48 minutes on the court this season, a number well below Howard (+10.8) or even Vince Carter (+6.9). Simply, the Magic were not that much better than their opponents with the shoot-first point guard Nelson at the helm.

The Magic may have their eye on a more traditional point guard. Jameer Nelson is actually pretty movable making $8.1 million per year for two more years.

However, finding someone better than will not be that easy — he brings a lot to the table and Orlando would miss his scoring. This may have been just a one-time shot in the dark to ask about Paul. Or, it may be part of a plan we see unfold over the summer.

Three things to watch: Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards

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1. How much will these teams’ disdain for each other color the series?

Back in January, the Wizards wore all black for a figurative funeral while arriving for a game against the Celtics then buried Boston in a 123-108 win.

But the Celtics are still alive and ready for the next stage in a rivalry that has included:

Both teams appear primed for more hijinks. The Wizards taunted the Hawks throughout their first-round series, and Boston crossed the line with the Bulls.

2. Which team is actually better?

The Wizards outpaced the Celtics in my adjusted-for-playoff-rotation rankings before the postseason began. But getting a clear picture of who’s in the teams’ playoff rotations and counting the first round turns the tables.

Here’s both teams’ offensive, defensive and net ratings from the regular season to counting only lineups (regular season and first round) comprised of five players projected to be in the teams’ rotation this series:

1. Boston Celtics

  • Offensive rating: 112.4 to 116.2
  • Defensive rating: 109.8 to 110.4
  • Net rating: +2.6 to +5.8

4. Washington Wizards

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 115.6
  • Defensive rating:  110.0 to 110.5
  • Net rating: +1.7 to +5.1

Even with the flaws in these numbers – small sample sizes and no control for competition – the question of which team will put a better team on the floor in this series isn’t everything. Boston has home-court advantage, and that matters.

The complete updated playoff-rotation-adjusted ratings will be released Monday, after the first round ends.

3. How will the MVP-vote-getting point guards match up?

Both the Celtics and Wizards are reasonably deep, but good luck keeping your eyes off their star point guards. Isaiah Thomas and John Wall both received fifth-place MVP votes, tributes to their importance to their teams.

Thomas is Boston’s lone reliable scorer, and that brings a heavy fourth-quarter burden – which he has answered all year. Even when opponents know he’ll get the ball, they haven’t stopped him. Wall also drives Washington’s offense, though he does it with a more balanced passing and scoring attack throughout the game.

But Wall’s primary argument for superiority over other big-name point guards – including Thomas – is his defense. The 6-foot-4 Wall will have an opportunity to show that against the 5-foot-9 Thomas. Likewise, Thomas has a chance to pester Wall enough to show the defensive gap isn’t too wide.

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

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Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.

How to start your Saturday night: Watching 15 minutes of best plays from NBA season

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There are no NBA playoff games Saturday night, the first night since the start of the postseason there hasn’t been one game. Don’t worry, there are two games on Sunday, including Game 7 between the Jazz and Clippers.

But if you need a Saturday night fix, this will have to do: 15 minutes of the best plays from last season, as compiled by NBA.com.

Go ahead, watch it. You’ve got nothing better to do.