Chris Paul to Clippers deal dies, league’s demands too steep


Chris Paul is not going to Los Angeles. Not to the Lakers because David Stern killed the deal and now not to the Clippers because he and the league drove the asking price too high, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo and multiple other reports.

And now you have to wonder: Next time a league GM sees Hornets’ GM Dell Demps’ number come up on his phone, will he just send it straight to voicemail? Who is going to want to trade with the Hornets now?

There appear to be several versions of the deal offered but the league — read David Stern — wanted there to be Eric Gordon, Eric Bledsoe, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu and a 2012 unprotected first round pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Clippers were reluctant to part with Gordon and really would not part with Gordon and the pick and Bledsoe. So the Clippers walked away from the table, which is a reasonable thing to do because they are a good team with those guys. It is possible this deal gets revived because the league relents, but for now it is dead.

This is very similar to how the CP3 to the Lakers deal fell apart, in that the league decided it was not enough. The difference was in the Clippers case Demps thought he had the autonomy to make a dead and reached one all sides agreed to. In the Clippers case, the league was dictating terms to Demps and the Clippers from early on, and were driving such a hard bargain they killed the deal. (Sounds a lot like the lockout, doesn’t it?)

There are suggestions that the league doesn’t think it can get as much money in a sale of the Hornets if Paul is not on the team. But no owner who would buy the team is stupid enough not to know that Paul is gone at the end of the year, and any smart owner would want something to start rebuilding on in return. Like either of the Los Angeles deals.

If there is no deal by the trade deadline for Paul, he will leave the Hornets next summer as a free agent and the team will get nothing. He has told them he will will not sign an extension to stay with the franchise. (That is not about the city of New Orleans, it’s about the franchise and ownership.)

There is one other aspect to this: There are rumblings the union may file a collusion lawsuit against the league on behalf of Paul. In the case of the Lakers deal, while the league denies this there was clearly pressure from the other owners that helped kill that deal, they did not want to see the big market, powerhouse Lakers improve right after a lockout about competitive balance.

51Q: Does Ty Lawson vault the Rockets into the top tier of championship contenders?

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets controls the ball against Ty Lawson #3 of the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on March 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockets defeated the Nuggets 114-100. 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 Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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I see five clear upper-echelon championship contenders –  Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Thunder and Cavaliers.

Do the Rockets belong in that group, or do they fill the next tier by themselves?

Ty Lawson – acquired for pennies on the dollar – could put Houston over the top.

But, really, this premise might not be fair to the Rockets. They earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference last season and reached the conference finals last season. James Harden finished second in MVP voting. Dwight Howard looked like a star during the playoffs. The supporting cast – Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Patrick Beverley, Corey Brewer and even Jason Terry – played better than anyone expected. Young players like Clint Capela, K.J. McDaniels, Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell could make a leap at any moment.

There’s a case to be made we should have taken Houston more seriously even before trading for Lawson.

I didn’t, though, and I don’t think many others did either.

I suspect one of the biggest reasons is the Rockets’ balance. Houston – 12th in points scored per possession, sixth in points allowed per possession – was one of only two teams to win more than 51 games last season without ranking top five in either category. Of the seven teams with so many victories, the Hawks – sixth, seventh – were the only other. Atlanta was a darling team, winning 60 games after going 38-44 the season prior. The Rockets’ modest win increase, from 54 to 56, drew less attention.

But balance shouldn’t be punished. Houston’s surprisingly strong defense should be celebrated. Lawson might push its middling offense over the top.

There are reasons to question that, though.

The biggest is Lawson’s sobriety. If he’s not focused and engaged, this all goes out the window. His comments about going to rehab only because it was court-ordered raise doubts, though they hardly foretell anything.

Let’s say Lawson’s off-court problems are behind him. How big of an upgrade is he? The Rockets already had a pretty good point guard who fit well with Harden in Beverley. Lawson is a clear offensive upgrade, but in the biggest moments, the ball will still run through Harden. At that point, would you rather have Beverley or Lawson on the floor? Beverley is a far superior defender, and his off-ball offensive game isn’t far from Lawson’s. Beverley is is a fine spot-up shooter, and Lawson’s strengths involve having the ball and creating. Lawson’s biggest boost could come when Harden sits, but that was fewer than 12 minutes per game last season.

Sure, a secondary ball-handler could ease pressure on Harden throughout a long regular season. Lawson and Harden can take turns running the attack.

But we’re talking about title contention, and in those high-leverage situations, it’s Harden’s show. How much does Lawson matter then?

The Rockets have a chance to win a championship. As good a chance as the NBA’s five best teams? I’m not so sure.

UNLV following Kentucky’s lead with combine for NBA scouts

Goodluck Okonoboh, Patrick McCaw
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Kentucky held a two-day combine last season for NBA scouts.

Now, LSU and UNLV are following suit.

Rob Dauster of NBC Sports:

The Runnin’ Rebels will hold their event on October 23rd and 24th at the Mendenhall Center, UNLV’s practice facility, sources told The expectation is that all 30 NBA teams will be in attendance.

LSU has potential No. 1 pick Ben Simmons and another first-round prospect in Tim Quarterman.

UNLV features lottery prospect Stephen Zimmerman.

This won’t replace scouts attending games and watching practices, but the fact that all 30 teams plan to attend shows how seriously the pro league takes these. No college team wanted John Calipari to have that competitive advantage in recruiting, so the smart ones are leveling the field with their own combines. Soon, more college teams will follow.

As the calendar gets packed, NBA teams might have to pick and choose which they attend. At that point, we might get little clues about which prospects they’re scouting hardest.