Chris Paul update: Clippers waiting for league, Lakers trying to get back in

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The entire Chris Paul saga reminds me of the NBA lockout, just flipped on its head.

In the lockout, the owners and league made wild demands of the players, and since the owners had the leverage they got most of what they wanted (they got the money, which is what mattered most).

With CP3, the league (which owns the Hornets) shot down the trade to the Lakers and is making outrageous demands of the Clippers to get a deal done.

Except, this time the Clippers have the leverage. They walked away from he bargaining table on Monday and while the league has worked to re-engage them the Clippers are sitting around waiting for the league to come back to them with a more reasonable offer.

But in that interim time, the Los Angeles Lakers have tried to jump back into the fray, reports Marc Stein at ESPN.

ESPN.com learned Tuesday that a Lakers’ deal for Paul has not yet been ruled out, contingent on the fact that they can recruit at least one other team to supply some of the young pieces that the league is demanding. But the Lakers do still have Gasol as a centerpiece, who could either replace Paul as the Hornets’ franchise player or give New Orleans a top-20 player to be dangled in subsequent deals.

The Clippers are doing this on their own terms and picked up Chauncey Billups off waivers, which gave them even more leverage, as Adrian Wojnarowski reports at Yahoo.com.

Clippers officials and NBA executives representing the Hornets have continued to have conversations, but the tone and substance of the talks has dramatically changed with L.A.’s addition of point guard Chauncey, sources said. The Clippers are selling the NBA on the idea that the market for Paul has shrunk and the league’s demands have to be lowered, too….

“They’re scrambling now,” one official said of the NBA. “But it’s still hard to tell if they really want to trade him, or they’re just determined to keep the asking price in a place where they can hold onto him for the next owner. …These guys in New York had no idea how hard this process would be.”

That’s where we sit Tuesday night. Waiting. The Clippers could go into the season with Billups, Mo Williams and Eric Bledsoe at point guard — with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan and Eric Gordon — and be a likely playoff team in the West. They are not feeling the pressure. The Lakers are trying to find a third team to get some younger pieces, but they are not under great pressure to get a deal done either (they always have Dwight Howard to chase).

In the Clippers case, the league wanted Chris Kaman (an expiring contract) plus Gordon, Bledsoe, Al-Farouq Aminu and Minnesota’s unprotected 2012 first-round draft pick (to which the Clippers have the rights). The Clippers were not willing to give up all five things before they got Billups. Now rumors of Trevor Ariza coming to the Clippers and Mo Williams going to the Hornets are out there, Stein reports, but all kinds of ideas have been bounced around. That is different than one getting done.

The league might be willing to keep Paul through the sale of the Hornets. As if that would boost the value of the team (nobody is buying that team thinking Paul is staying). Who knows? It’s hard to see what the league is thinking.

So we wait. Because the Clippers have the leverage.

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.