This was more like the opening gambit of a chess game — it played out exactly to form, with the real moves that matter still to come.
The Clippers have offered Chris Paul a max extension to his deal, a three-year, $60 million offer, reports Chris Broussard of ESPN (multiple sources reported before Friday that offer would be coming).
Paul and his agent turned it down. As they should have, for two good business reasons:
1) If he plays out this season, becomes a free agent and then re-signs with the Clippers he can get a five-year, $105 million contract. It is one of the quirks of the new CBA that it is in the financial interest of players to become free agents and re-sign with the same team rather than to just sign an extension with thier team.
2) This keeps the pressure on management to keep building a winner. The Clippers ended last year as a team on the rise, they reminded me of the Oklahoma City Thunder of a couple years ago — a team with a lot of talent learning how to win on the biggest stages. But they could slide back if owner Donald Sterling went cheap (bringing in Lamar Odom is a sign he is not). This is just smart by CP3, keep leverage over the team to keep building.
The real questions about what Chris Paul will do come a year from now. The Clippers are not going to move him at the deadline unless he asks out, and he’s not going to do that. CP3 will follow the Steve Nash model. But if he feels the Clippers are not committed, next July could be very interesting.
By the way, it’s not finalized yet but Blake Griffin will sign his max extension with the Clips.
Kevin Durant playing the Thunder invites extra emotions.
Russell Westbrook felt them – in the form of a flagrant foul by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who stood over Westbrook for emphasis.
Pachulia is really embracing his role doing the dirty work for star-studded Golden State.
That rumor No. 1 pick Ben Simmons won’t play this season?
It just won’t die.
Even after Simmons tried to quash it, even after the 76ers’ CEO outright denied it, even after Simmons returned to practice, even in an otherwise optimistic report.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
76ers rookie forward Ben Simmons could make his much-anticipated NBA debut shortly after the All-Star break, league sources told ESPN.
Barring a setback in his recovery, sources say the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft has a chance to take the hardwood near March. There still remains the possibility Simmons sits the entire season, sources said, but his situation will continue to be thoroughly evaluated throughout his comeback quest.
76ers coach Brett Brown said there’s “no chance” Simmons plays in Philadelphia’s nationally televised game against the Rockets next week. Other than that, there isn’t much clarity.
It mostly sounds as if Simmons is still too far from returning to say something definitive.
The Hornets did so much right in their 107-85 win over the Trail Blazers, even a bad pass went through the hoop.
Roy Hibbert reacted fantastically to blunder/basket (blasket?).
Norman Powell – get out of here.
Jared Sullinger – get out of here.
Dario Saric blocked consecutive dunk attempts in the 76ers’ 94-89 win over the Raptors. Philadelphia has won seven of nine and looks suddenly revitalized.
The best part of all this? Saric’s teammates’ reactions – though the actual blocks were pretty great themselves.