Chris Paul could get his max deal in New York… just don’t bet on it

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Chris Paul wants to go to the Knicks. Chris Paul also would like a massive payday of a bird-rights extension — five years and $100 million.

But he can’t get those two things the way Carmelo Anthony did, the new collective bargaining agreement takes that away. The Hornets could (in theory) do a sign-and-trade with the Knicks, but then the max-deal CP3 could receive would be the same as if the Knicks signed him as a free agent (four years, $74 million).

But there is a path to Paul being on the Knicks with a $100 million max deal.

Just don’t bet on it happening.

It’s three steps laid out by Zach Lowe at Sports Illustrated. The first step is where this process dies in the real world:

Force the Hornets to trade him to the Knicks without signing a contract extension in the process. This is the tricky part. The Hornets don’t have to trade Paul, and if they decide to, they don’t have to trade him to New York. Other teams have better assets, and Paul will be counting on those teams to bow out of the bidding if they think he will not re-sign there. Does this sound familiar?

The Hornets are not going to trade Chris Paul to the Knicks. First because the Knicks do not have the assets (picks and young players) needed as they sent them all to Denver to get Carmelo Anthony. (New York could, in theory, bring in a third and maybe fourth team to get the assets needed, but those are complex deals to pull off.)

The other thing is that the league owns the Hornets right now — after an entire lockout where David Stern preached “competitive balance” there is no way the league is going to sign off on trading a superstar to complete a trio in New York. The other owners would not tolerate it.

If Paul were somehow able to get traded to the Knicks the path to the max deal is really pretty simple, if a bit risky for the team.

If the Hornets eventually surrender and deal him to New York, Paul’s Bird Rights go with him. He must then become a free agent, either by declining his player option for 2012-13, or accepting that option, playing that season and becoming a free agent in the summer of 2013. By entering free agency as a Knick, Paul would escape the limitations in years and money that would come with engaging in a Carmelo-type extend-and-trade deal under this new collective bargaining agreement.

The last step is easy: Sign a five-year, $100 million extension with New York. The Knicks would have his Bird Rights, so they could exceed the cap as much as they wish to retain Paul.

Some player down the line is going to follow this pattern to get his max deal. Teams prefer the certainty of a sign-and-trade but if you trust the player doesn’t walk when he becomes a free agent this is doable. It is sort of what Deron Williams is doing now with the Nets — he may re-sign there but he wants to become a free agent to get the bigger payday.

But not Chris Paul. If he goes to the Knicks it will be as a free agent next summer.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.