Report: Chris Paul to pressure Hornets to trade him

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cpaul_points.jpgDell Demps, welcome to your nightmare.

The brand new general manager of the Hornets is going to be met by Chris Paul trying to force his way out of New Orleans before the start of this season, according to Ken Berger at CBSsports.com.

He wants out,” said the person, who has been briefed on Paul’s strategy but spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it publicly. “He wants to play with another superstar. He wants to follow LeBron’s model of teaming up with other great players.”

Chris Paul sat and watched as Miami grew powerful, he has watched as Chicago got better, he watched as Los Angeles and Boston stayed good. All of those teams have stars teamed up together. Meanwhile he watched the Hornets go flat (in part due to his injury) and a terrible ownership situation that plays out like nobody is in charge.

Paul’s agent is Leon Rose, part of the powerful Creative Artists Agency
that represents LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. That also
means the master of back-channel communications William Wesley is likely
involved. Bottom line, these are powerful guys who get big deals done.

Paul has two years left on his deal and the Hornets can afford to play
hardball and wait this out, if they trade him at all. If they did, it
would set the franchise back for years unless they got good young
players in return.

Demps needs to sit down immediately with Paul and his people, something
he has said he plans to do. Then he’s got to do the sales job of his
life. The Hornets are nothing without Paul, he is their best player and
the face of the marketing campaign.

One other possibility: Remember the belief among most other teams that proposed Hornets buyer Gary Chouest asked now-fired general manager Jeff Bower to test the trade waters for Chris Paul? And how current owner George Shinn says he is not trying to trade Paul and fired Bower? And that nobody really knows who to deal with in New Orleans right now? All of this could be a push and play between the two men in negotiations, trying to pressure a sale one way or the other.

Or maybe that screwed up ownership situation was the last straw for Paul. 

If he’s available, just about everybody would make a run at him, but Berger says there is a list already.

Paul’s list of preferred destinations consists of the Knicks, Magic and Lakers, and members of his inner circle already have sent word to the Hornets of his desire to be traded to one of those teams, sources say. If Paul has his way, he’s played his last game in a Hornets jersey.

“He feels like they haven’t put the right pieces together,” said the person familiar with the star point guard’s plans.

 What about the teams on Paul’s list?

The Lakers don’t make a lot of sense, unless Los Angeles is willing to give up a player like Andrew Bynum or Lamar Odom and filler to make the money work. The Lakers are already at the top of the league in payroll and Jerry Buss is not looking to take on more. Plus, the triangle offense the Lakers run does not call for a strong point guard in it. In fact, the opposite is true. Paul to LA only works if Los Angeles is planning to make radical changes after winning back-to-back championships and with their core locked up. They are not, by the way.

Orlando has already made a run at Paul during the “he’s available/no he isn’t” game the Hornets and their ownership played earlier this summer. They offered Jameer Nelson as the heart of a solid package, but they could also throw in bigs like Brandon Bass or Martin Gortat. The Paul/Howard pick and roll would be the best in the league from day one.

CP3 may really want to be in New York — teaming up with Amare Stoudemire and running the Mike D’Antoni offense that Paul is perfectly suited for. Plus, expect the Carmelo Anthony to NYC speculation explode like… well, LeBron rumors. The Knicks have prospects like Raymond Felton they could send to New Orleans, but it would be Dec. 15 before they could make that trade.

Another team to watch is Portland, which was reportedly close to a deal a couple months ago, until the Hornets ownership sobered up. But they would gladly jump back in the mix, they’d just have to convince Paul to go there.

Really? Online petition started to change name of Durant, Oklahoma, to Westbrook.

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 30:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder stands on the court in Game Seven of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on May 30, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Durant, Oklahoma, is a city of just more than 15,000 people in the southern part of the state. It is the capital of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and it was named after its Choctaw founder, Dixon Durant.

But some people in Oklahoma are not high on the name Durant, lately. Kevin Durant decided to bolt the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Golden State Warriors this summer, and some Thunder fans feel betrayed. Understandably. Durant was well within his rights, but if you’re a Thunder fan and you’re not hurt by this it would be strange.

Still, you have to hope what follows is satire. It reads like it.

Oklahoma’s Ryan Nazari created a Change.org petition asking the city of Durant be renamed the city of Westbrook. As in Russell Westbrook. The guy who signed a contract extension to stay in Oklahoma (for just one extra year, but still). Read the petition below and tell me it doesn’t sound like satire.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the great state of Oklahoma has been betrayed. As many of you know, Kevin Durant has left our state, torn out our hearts, and left our beloved Oklahoma City Thunder in depleted shape. All of this after even being offered a cabinet position for the State of Oklahoma. It is because of this heinous action that I believe the State of Oklahoma has a responsibility to change the name of the City of Durant to Westbrook, the man who is loyal, whom we believe in, and who will lead our team to glory. Yes, it is understood that the city Durant was not named after the evil Kevin Durant, but it is just another hideous reminder of what happened to our community.”

As of this writing, he had reached his goal of having more than 1,000 people sign on.

Maybe it’s satire, but it’s more creative than burning a jersey.

Obviously, the name of the city is not changing. If people want to live in Westbrook, they should move to Maine.

Way too early look: Who could make up USA’s 2020 Tokyo Olympic basketball team?

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 21:  Jimmy Butler, Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan and Kyle Lowry #7 of United States stand on the podium after defeating Serbia in the Men's Gold medal game on Day 16 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1 on August 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Let’s start with the obvious: This is an exercise in futility. There is no way to predict accurately what the 2020 USA men’s basketball team headed to the Tokyo Olympics will look like. There will be injuries that sideline guys. There will be contract situations where key guys decide it’s in their best interest to sit out. Plus, there could be a guy just now entering his junior year of high school who we don’t know well yet but in four years will be a clear choice for the team.

Now that we’ve gotten through the tedious disclaimer, let’s have fun:

What will the 2020 USA Basketball team look like?

First, it will have a bit of a business attitude — Gregg Popovich is coaching now. Not that Mike Krzyzewski ran a college party Team USA, far from it, but with Popovich’s demeanor and the scare put into the 2016 team (and some improving world powers, such as Canada), expect the USA to be a little more focused next time around.

For the roster, who from the 2016 gold medal team in Rio returns for more gold? At the top of the list: A 31-year-old Kevin Durant will be back for one more run (and to climb on top of the USA Olympic scoring list). He will be the unquestioned team leader. The alpha. It will be his team.

After that? Young stars who want one more go at it such as Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, DeAndre Jordan, and Klay Thompson will seriously consider a return. Maybe Jimmy Butler. Those guys will have a leg up having Olympic experience and a commitment to the program.

After that, some big names that passed on Rio are going to suit up in Japan. There will be far less defection of top talent this time around — the fears around Brazil will be gone, and NBA players wanting to sell more shoes in Asia will be eager to sign up. I expect you will see Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook, and maybe James Harden decide they are in for the next round. LeBron James said he felt left out and may consider a return, but he will be 35 years old with 17 NBA seasons on his body by that point, does he want to put his body through an international curtain call? Probably not.

Rounding out the roster, expect a few guys from this year’s USA Select Team — the team the Olympic squad practiced against in Las Vegas at the start of camp — to make the leap up (as Kyrie Irving and others did this year).

Who? That’s the hardest thing to predict, it depends on development. Guys to watch include Victor Olidipo, Justise Winslow, Devin Booker, Brandon Ingram, and Jabari Parker — some of them will be ready to make the leap.

One clue to the 2020 roster: Players that you see in China for the 2019 FIBA World Cup will be more likely to make the 2020 team. (Yes, the World Championships are now the year before the Olympics, welcome to more of FIBA’s wisdom, as is the fact the Cup qualifiers fall during the NBA/Euroleague seasons.) Guys from the select team now that head to China in three years and perform well in that setting will likely have the USA across their chest in Japan.

Whatever team we send will have the most talent in those games. The question is will that be enough?

Check out the Cleveland Cavaliers Top 10 plays from last season

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With athletes such as LeBron James and Kyrie Irving on the team, you know the Cleveland Cavaliers Top 10 plays of last season were going to have some special moments.

Yes, the block by LeBron and the stepback three by Irving that sealed the first Cleveland title in 52 years are on top of the list.

But there are some other ridiculous Irving handles and even a Timofey Mozgov dunk in there (a $64 million dunk, apparently).

Watch Spurs’ Dejounte Murray throw off-the-backboard alley-oop to himself in pickup game

Washington guard Dejounte Murray, center, dribbles the ball past Mount St. Mary's center Taylor Danaher (50) as Washington forward Marquese Chriss, right, watches duirng the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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Just a suggestion for rookie Dejounte Murray: Don’t do this in front of Gregg Popovich. You may not like his reaction.

That said, the Spurs needed to get more athletic this off-season — landing Pau Gasol certainly didn’t help that cause — so enter first-round pick Murray, who pulled this off in a recent pickup game.

Murray is going to be brought along slowly in a backcourt where Tony Parker and Patty Mills will be splitting time at the point. Murray is more of a combo guard and is going to have to shoot a lot better than he did in college (28.8 percent from three) to get some run. But this is a situation where the Spurs can groom him, bring him along slowly, and see if they have another draft steal.

He’s certainly got the athleticism.