Report: Chris Paul to Clippers deal submitted to league for approval

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This is the power of Blake Griffin. Without him, we are not having this discussion. And it’s pretty crazy we are having this discussion anyway.

The Los Angeles Clippers are close to landing Chris Paul in a trade, the Los Angeles Times and ESPN report.

ESPN reports the deal has been submitted to the league for approval, although the exact players going back to New Orleans are not quite clear.

The Times says the deal sends Chris Kaman, Eric Bledsoe, Al-Farouq Aminu, and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ unprotected first-round pick for this draft (the Clippers have the rights to that pick) to New Orleans. ESPN reports that Eric Gordon, not Bledsoe, is in the deal, which makes way more sense for the Hornets, but that the holdup is that the Hornets wanted Bledsoe as well. Yahoo reports that Gordon is not part of the deal.

If Gordon is not part of this deal, it is a steal for the Clippers. There are reports Los Angeles is refusing to include Gordon. Insert your own “basketball reasons” joke here.

ESPN says Paul agreed to the Clippers’ demand and would pick up his option on his current deal for the 2012-13 season. The Hornets are trading him because he would not pick up that option for them and was to become a free agent.

With the option picked up, he would be a Clipper for two seasons, then could re-sign or become a free agent.

Paul was to be traded to the Lakers in a three-way deal that frankly might have netted more for the Hornets. In that deal they would have landed sixth man of the year Lamar Odom, plus Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and a lower first-round pick than the Timberwolves’ pick is likely to be. However, David Stern rejected that deal for “basketball reasons.”

That’s not true. Stern shot it down because other owners freaked out to learn the powerhouse, big-market Lakers were going to land a superstar player after a lockout where small-market owners fought to rein in those big market teams. This was about the Lakers getting better.

The other owners don’t really care if the big-market-but-cheap Clippers get better, so this deal probably will go through. So Clippers owner Donald Sterling — a man who has a terrible history as an owner, a guy who paid out the largest federal housing discrimination lawsuit settlement in history, a guy who has made the Clippers a laughingstock in pro sports — can do what he wants, but Jerry Buss cannot because he’s smart and successful running a team? Nice.

The Clippers’ package would net the Hornets younger players, but not as much quality. The unprotected first-round pick could be big in a deep draft expected next June and Eric Gordon is a star on the rise — but apparently he is not part of the offer, which is crazy the Hornets should be demanding him. It’s hard to see how Eric Bledsoe can really hold up this deal.

PBT Podcast: Early trade deadline breakdown with Dan Feldman

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The NBA’s trade market did not collapse after the Jahlil Okafor trade.

There’s more to come, but with the trade deadline is less than two months away, we have more questions than answers. DeAndre Jordan very likely could be on the move from the Clippers (and Lou Williams, too). But what is Memphis going to do about Mark Gasol? New Orleans with DeMarcus Cousins? Oklahoma City with Paul George? And if any of those guys are available, who is a buyer? Cleveland? Milwaukee? Portland?

Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports break down the high end of the trade market, plus talk about other guys who could be on the move — maybe Nikola Mirotic from Chicago, and what about someone like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist from Charlotte — before Feb. 8 gets here. The last couple of trade deadlines have been interesting, but will we see a move that changes the landscape of the NBA playoffs in a meaningful way?

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

Joel Embiid calls out Karl Anthony-Towns’ defense during Instagram trash talk

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Joel Embiid often gloats on Instagram after 76ers wins.

Of course he did after Philadelphia beat Minnesota on Tuesday, specifically calling attention to this move on Karl-Anthony Towns (and this 76ers fan custom):

Embiid:

Euro stepping our way through Minnesota and we ended up raising the cat last night #TheProcess

A post shared by Joel "The Process" Embiid (@joelembiid) on

Towns commented:

That caption was as trash as your picture quality

Embiid replied:

Better quality than your defense

Embiid insisted it’s all in good fun.

Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

https://twitter.com/JCameratoNBCS/status/941395953113804800

I’m not sure Towns is having as much fun as Towns. But I know this:

Embiid had a valid point.

Salah Mejri kicks at Patty Mills as Mavericks and Spurs leave court for halftime (video)

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Mavericks center Salah Mejri has a history of agitating, including against the Spurs.

Two years ago, Mejri dunked while Dallas got blown out by San Antonio and yapped at the Spurs bench – drawing laughter from Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan. Last season, Mejri had Trevor Ariza and other Rockets trying to confront him after reportedly saying something about Ariza’s family.

In the Mavericks’ win over the Spurs on Tuesday, Mejri got into it with Patty Mills.

Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com:

Mejri and Rudy Gay received double technical fouls, and Mejri went to the bench. Everything could have cooled down at halftime, but Mejri escalated tension

Watch the full sequence above, but the key moment:

giphy (2)

That’ll probably draw a fine.

NBA introducing 2-for-1 All-Star voting days

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The NBA changed its All-Star format this season from East vs. West to captain-picked teams (though still naming players equally from each conference).

That apparently wasn’t a big enough overhaul.

After including media and player votes last year, the league is making All-Star starter selection even more complex.

NBA release:

NBA All-Star Voting 2018 presented by Verizon will tip off with an early voting period exclusively on the NBA App and NBA.com beginning Thursday, Dec. 21 at 1 p.m. ET.

Voting via all other channels, including Amazon Alexa for the first time, will launch on Monday, Dec. 25 at 11 a.m.

Additionally, new for this season, five “2-for-1 Days” will allow fans to have their votes count twice on Dec. 31, Jan. 4, Jan. 11, Jan. 12 and Jan. 15 when voting through the NBA App and NBA.com, along with Sina Weibo and Tencent in China.  All “2-for-1 Days” will be designated 12 a.m. – 11:59 p.m. ET.

TNT will reveal the All-Star Game starters, including the two captains, on Thursday, Jan. 18 during TNT NBA Tip-Off

The network will announce the reserves, as selected by NBA head coaches, on Tuesday, Jan. 23 during TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET. 

The team rosters for NBA All-Star Game 2018 in Los Angeles will be revealed on Thursday, Jan. 25 during a special one-hour edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET.

I suppose this is to drum up interest on otherwise quiet voting days. After all, this is really just about the NBA selling itself.

But the All-Star voting process has always left something to be desired. I don’t see how this changes that.