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.

Reports: Pelicans to sign Jameer Nelson with Rondo out

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With Rajon Rondo out 4-6 weeks with a sports hernia, the New Orleans Pelicans were looking for a solid backup point guard.

This week, to make room to sign Richard Jefferson, the Denver Nuggets waived veteran Jameer Nelson.

While other teams such as the Rockets were calling, the Pelicans and Nelson have reached a deal, reports both Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports added this.

Nelson, in his 14th NBA season, became the top free agent on the market and received interest from contenders such as the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder and several other franchises that hoped to add the respected and accomplished veteran. But for Nelson, the Pelicans represent an opportunity to play significant minutes and provide leadership.

The Pelicans had a full roster of 15 players, they could have waited until next Tuesday and gotten a disabled player exception to add a 16th player, but they decided to go with something more permanent.

Jrue Holiday starts at the point for the Pelicans but with Rondo out — he was supposed to start next to Holiday — there is no depth at the position. The Pelicans can have Nelson step in and get minutes from the first time he steps on the court.

Nelson is still a solid pick-and-roll point guard, but what he brings to the table the Pelicans need more is shooting — he shot 38.8 percent from three last season and is a good spot up player. He can penetrate and make plays off handoffs as well, but it’s his shooting on a team that needs it that will be most valued.

The Pelicans have started the season 0-2 with losses to Memphis and Golden State. They take on the Lakers in Los Angeles Sunday night.

DeMarcus Cousins fined $25,000 for cursing at fan

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Near the end of New Orleans’ season-opening loss in Memphis, DeMarcus Cousins started getting into a war of words with a female Grizzlies fan, an exchange where allegedly “F-bombs” were dropped in both directions.

That’s going to cost Cousins.

Saturday the league announced that the Pelicans’ center has been fined $25,000 for “directing inappropriate language towards a fan.”

Cousins got a technical foul during this exchange, and that has been rescinded.

Cousins has averaged 31 points and 10 rebounds a game through two games this season, but it hasn’t been enough as New Orleans has started the season 0-2.

It’s not about the shoes: Kevin Durant loses his, blocks two shots anyway

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Shoes? Kevin Durant don’t need no stinkin’ shoes.

Early in the second quarter of the Warriors win in New Orleans Friday, Durant came out of his shoes on a layup in the lane. He then picked up his shoe, carried it to the other end, flipped it to the bench, and played defense without it, and while he got moved out of the way allowing an offensive rebound for the Pelicans he then proceeded to block Tony Allen twice at the rim.

Durant — after deciding to play the rest of the game in shoes — had seven blocks on the night, to go with 22 points.

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Celtics on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. That will work especially well against teams going small (for example, the Cavaliers with Kevin Love at the five), although Friday night Boston had big man Aron Baynes starting at center (in part because of Embiid, in part because Marcus Smart was out injured). Still, Embiid can score on Baynes.

Take a look at Embiid’s shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.