Chris Paul is simply put the best player available as a free agent this summer.
And while teams will call, the buzz around the league is none of them think they have a shot at him. Everyone is pretty convinced he will re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers.
That includes the Clippers. Marc Stein wrote at ESPN.com that the Clippers are very confident that CP3 will not leave this summer.
As one source close to the situation put it this week when asked to grade the Clips’ chances of retaining CP3, keeping in mind his well-chronicled love of the Hollywood scene and the fact that this team was good enough to reel off 17 wins in a row earlier this season: “I’m saying 99.5 percent.”
There are a lot of reasons for optimism. One, Paul likes the Los Angeles lifestyle, and he puts his son and family first and they all seem settled. Next, the Clippers can offer him more money in a max deal than anyone else with larger raises. (The Clippers cannot offer a fifth guaranteed year because they gave their one five-year deal to Blake Griffin.) Also, the organization seems to listen to him in terms of player moves he’d like to see.
Most importantly, where else is Paul going to go where he would be closer to winning a title? We can debate if DeAndre Jordan can really provide the punch they need inside in the postseason, just like we can discuss how they could use another shooter. And there is always the Vinny Del Negro caveat when discussing the Clippers postseason. But the fact is the Clippers are close, very close. If they can play in the postseason like they did at their peak this season they are a legitimate challenger to the Thunder. The Clippers are in the red zone for a title, not starting the drive from their own 20 like they were for so long.
Things always can change. A playoff meltdown could alter the landscape. This team is still owned by Donald Sterling and he did not become a saint overnight. We could come up with a list of things that could go wrong, but the fact is they most likely will not. Chris Paul will be back with the Clippers next season.
Which is why when team around the league look at major free agents they can poach this summer, they are eyeing that other team in Staples Center, not the Clippers.
Patrick Beverley is going to have a key role with the Rockets — he is their best defending guard. And it’s not close. He can help space the floor as a three-point shooter, he can work off the ball on offense and serve as a backup playmaker, but mostly what he brings is fearless, physical defense.
Except he’s not going to bring it for a while.
Following rumors he might knee surgery comes this from Houston coach Mike D’Antoni, via Calvin Watkins of ESPN.
Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said he expects guard Pat Beverley to miss at least 20 games with a left knee injury. His absence “complicates” some roster spots.
The Rockets are going to have one of the best offenses in the NBA but whether they finish fourth or seventh or out of the playoffs completely in the West will come down to a combination of health and how well they defend. This is a setback on both counts.
Expect to see more Eric Gordon, Tyler Ennis, and P.J. Hairston. Gordon has a real chance here. This is going to be an interesting year in Houston.
The Chicago Bulls traded Derrick Rose to New York, in hopes that the locker room, “whose team is this?” drama would head East with him. This is Jimmy Butler‘s team, with Dwyane Wade now assisting.
But the drama isn’t gone yet.
On their way out the door, the camps around Rose and Joakim Noah tried to paint Butler as a Diva who was the real problem. When Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times asked Butler about it, he basically laughed off the idea.
“Am I a diva? I don’t call it that,’’ Butler said before Thursday’s 97-81 loss to Atlanta in their final preseason game. “My will to win rubs people the wrong way sometimes. I can blame it on that, but won’t apologize for it. Never will.
“As far as that talk goes, I don’t care. I’m going to keep working and if people don’t like it, people want to say what they want to say, that’s fine. I know, and I think these guys know, where my heart is and how I want to do right by everybody.’’
Rose and Noah thought Butler tried to jump the line to be the leader of the team, which they saw as still their right as the veterans. Butler didn’t care what they thought then, he certainly doesn’t now.
What matters more, Nicola Mirotic and Doug McDermott and Bobby Portis don’t care, and they are the guys still there.
Who will finish with the better record, Bulls or Knicks, is one of my favorite subplots of the NBA season.
The Spurs are counting on Danny Green to regain his top-flight “3&D” form this season and give them another defender and weapon when they go up against that potential juggernaut out West. And the Clippers, too.
But that comeback is getting off to a slow start, the team announced Friday.
This likely means a little more run for Manu Ginobili and Kevin Martin to start the season, plus some funky lineups from Gregg Popovich.
Green played great defense last season but struggled from three (where 60 percent of his attempts are taken). Green shot 33.2 percent from deep on the season, which is well below his career average of 40.3 percent (and last year’s down numbers were buoyed by a red-hot January, he was much worse the rest of the season).
It’s something for Spurs fans to monitor, they need to get his legs right before his shot can return.
The NBA’s award season seems more wide open than ever.
Ben Simmons was going to enter the season as the heavy favorite to win Rookie of the Year, but with him out injured the door is flung open to a lot of players. Coach of the Year is always a game of “which coach exceeds expectations.” Even MVP seems more open with Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant — the award winners the past three seasons — teamed up in the Bay Area.
In this latest PBT Extra I throw out my predictions for the awards, but let’s get on with the games next week and see who earns them.