Report: Lakers, Rockets, Hornets talking reworking Chris Paul trade

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This could get interesting. And it could provide David Stern a “face saving” way out of his public relations disaster.

The Lakers, Hornets and Rockets are talking again about ways to sweeten the three-team trade vetoed by Stern yesterday, tweeted Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo (who has been on top of this story from the start).

On renewed talks for nixed Chris Paul blockbuster: “All three teams are engaged,” one source tells Y! Sports. “Not sure if it will work.”

There are other teams who had been in the CP3 hunt — Golden State, Boston — who have tried to re-engage talks with the Hornets as well.

“We’re talking about everything. Everything is on the table,” general manager Dell Demps told the Associated Press.

If a deal is not executed over the weekend, there are rumblings that the players union may take legal action against the league.

The original deal sent Chris Paul to the Lakers, Pau Gasol to the Rockets, and four players – Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and Goran Dragic — plus a first round pick to the Hornets.

Stern allegedly killed this deal for “basketball reasons,” because it made the Hornets less valuable as a franchise. According to the New York Times Howard Beck, the directive from the league is to get a package of younger players and picks that would allow the Hornets to build going forward. (You have to wonder if that means they want Andrew Bynum from the Lakers, and if L.A. would give him up for a point guard.)

Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert complained that the Lakers got the best player in the deal and shed salary. If the deal can be reworked so that Hornets big man Emeka Okafor — three years, $30 million left on his deal — went off the Hornets books and on the Lakers books, would that be more fair?

For a lot of the detractors, the real issue was that the best point guard in the game was leaving a small market for the 800-pound gorilla of franchises that was the Los Angeles Lakers. Chris Paul was going to team with Kobe Bryant, the Lakers still had Andrew Bynum (to play at center or use as the heart of a Dwight Howard trade) and those small market owners didn’t like it. They were jealous. The Lakers were smart enough to have the assets to get Paul and be a market where he would sign to play for years.

That does not change in a reworked deal. The Lakers would still get Paul and pair him with Kobe.

But after the backlash of the last 24 hours, would Stern dare veto it again? Or, could he say, “this deal is better” and save face by allowing it to go through?

LeBron James will play in opener against Celtics

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Did we really expect anything else?

LeBron James was a game-time decision for the season opener in Cleveland against Boston and Kyrie Irving due to a sprained ankle. We expected he would go, but ankles can be tricky and are easy to re-injure once sprained, so the Cavs wanted to be careful.

He’s going to play. Coach Tyronn Lue made it official.

LeBron is the best player on the planet, but he can coast through the regular season at times. What teams try to avoid is giving him extra motivation… say bringing in a guy who left the team last summer on opening night. Expect full force LeBron tonight.

LeBron James, do you owe Cleveland anything? “I don’t owe anybody anything”

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It will be the biggest off-court topic of the NBA season: Will LeBron James stay with the Cavaliers after this season?

Right now, LeBron doesn’t know the answer to that question for sure. I’m sure he has ideas, but he wisely leaves all his options open, then can make a call next summer when the time comes.

When that time does come, does he owe his hometown Cleveland anything? LeBron answered that question in the latest issue of GQ, and he answered with an emphatic no.

“LeBron James owes nobody anything. Nobody,” he said. “When my mother told me I don’t owe her anything, from that point in time, I don’t owe anybody anything. But what I will give to the city of Cleveland is passion, commitment, and inspiration. As long as I put that jersey on, that’s what I represent. That’s why I’m there — to inspire that city. But I don’t owe anybody anything.”

That’s not what Cavs fans may want to hear, but it’s also spot on. LeBron has given this franchise everything he has, he has brought them the first title the team has had in 50 years, and nobody sane can question his passion or how hard he plays.

LeBron could well get to his eighth straight NBA Finals, feel he’s on a team that can push the Warriors, then look at his options — the Lakers and a young core that doesn’t defend well, for example — and think maybe he’s best where he’s at. Perhaps he teams up with another star in Los Angeles or somewhere else. If LeBron called up 28 teams and said “I want to come there” those teams would make whatever moves they needed to for the deal to happen. (I say 28 because the Warriors wouldn’t, and even they’d think about it.)

LeBron has the leverage, and he is always a guy who keeps his options open. He will be asked about his future in every road stop, he will dodge the questions, and we’ll try to read the tea leaves, but as of right now LeBron doesn’t know for sure what LeBron will do next summer. Neither do we.

Report: Final season of LaMarcus Aldridge’s contract extension just $7 million guaranteed

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Spurs big LaMarcus Aldridge, who will earn $21,461,010 this season, agreed to exercise his $22,347,015 player option for 2018-19 in conjunction with signing a two-year, $50 million contract extension.

As usual, the devil is in the details.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Guaranteeing Aldridge just $7 million in 2020-21, when he’ll be 35, is obviously to San Antonio’s advantage relative to fully guaranteeing his extension. But it sets up an uneasy choice for the Spurs. Their three options for Aldridge will be:

  • Pay him $24 million in 2020-21 to play for them
  • Pay him $7 million in 2020-21 not to play for them
  • Pay him $2,333,333 in each 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23 not to play for them

There’s a solid chance that none of those are appealing.

Some speculated San Antonio extended Aldridge to facilitate a trade, removing uncertainty stemming from Aldridge’s player option. Though the Spurs now can’t trade him before the deadline, they could move him in the offseason.

But that 15% trade kicker is a significant inhibitor. His salary is already lofty for his age. An increase would only dissuade teams.

The simplest explanation is probably correct: The Spurs value the stability of their core, no matter how old it is, over flexibility.

Thunder give P.J. Dozier No. 35, Kevin Durant’s old number

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The Thunder signed P.J. Dozier, who went undrafted out of South Carolina, to a seemingly innocuous two-way contract.

Then, they let him pick No. 35 – previously worn by Kevin Durant.

Erik Horne of The Oklahoman:

Honoring Reggie Lewis seems like a valid reason for Dozier, who probably didn’t want to get swept into what has become a minor controversy.

Personally, I don’t mind a player wearing any unretired number. Even numbers that will clearly be retired can be fair game until the jersey goes into the rafters. This is a non-issue to me.

But people care about this stuff. Many see it as a sign of disrespect to Durant, who left Oklahoma City on bad terms when signing with the Warriors. The Thunder lose deniability about not caring, considering they told Dion Waiters he couldn’t wear No. 13, which was previously worn by James Harden.

Will Oklahoma City eventually retire Durant’s No. 35? He spent a fantastic eight years there (and another season with the Seattle SuperSonics before they moved). Time will ease the bitterness of his exit. It’s certainly possible he’s honored that way.

In the meantime, let Dozier wear No. 35 in peace. It should have nothing to do with Durant.