Chris Paul is not backing down from the challenge.
Clippers nation is dreaming of having their own banner hanging up at Staples Center, something that doesn’t look like the JV next to what the other team in the building has enshrined. The Clippers are not just dreaming of respectability — that came with Blake Griffin — they are thinking big.
And Paul is good with that, as he said at his introductory press conference (via the Los Angeles Times).
“I’m excited to bring a championship here to L.A. in a Clippers uniform,” Paul said. “Knowing that they’ve never won a championship here, I wanted to be a part of something like that.”
“I know about the history of the franchise and different things like that,” Paul said. “But this decision wasn’t about the past. It was about the present and about the future.”
He said all the right things.
But the pressure is still on the Clippers organization. They need depth to go around their stars now, and particularly depth along the front line. They need to play defense at an elite level, which means DeAndre Jordan has to mature. Vinny Del Negro needs to prove he can coach a team up to that level. And Donald Sterling has to foot the bill and then stay out of the way — and out of the locker room — and not screw this all up.
But this Clippers team suddenly looks like a squad that in a couple years could be a threat to win it all, to put their own banner up in Staples Center. And Chris Paul is not backing away from that.
Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.
Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.
Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”
That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)
Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.
But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.
The Pelicans starting center, Omer Asik, is injured.
Their backup center, Alexis Ajinca, is injured.
Enter Greg Smith.
Scott Kushner of The Advocate:
Smith was part of the Rockets’ 2012-13 rotation, but otherwise, he has seen limited minutes in his four-year career with Houston and Dallas. In that small sample, he has looked alright. The 6-foot-10 24-year-old uses his big frame and massive hands to catch passes and finish efficiently near the rim. He has also become more disciplined defensively.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the regular-season roster behind the 13 Pelicans with guaranteed salaries.
But it’s also possible New Orleans signed him just an extra preseason body. That’d beat relying too heavily on the aging Kendrick Perkins and undersized Jeff Adrien at center. Anthony Davis is the Pelicans’ best option at center with Asik and Ajinca sidelined (and maybe even with them healthy), but the biggest drawback to playing him there is the injury risk. If Davis is going to deal with the banging at center, might as well save it for games that count.
Still, even New Orleans plans to keep Smith only through the preseason, this at least gives him a chance to impress.