Clippers confident Chris Paul will stay with team this summer. They should be.

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Chris Paul and his agent are going to get calls — he is the best point guard in the NBA and he is an unrestricted free agent. He can go anywhere he wants this summer. Teams are going to take a shot.

But they all know it’s a long shot. At best.

The Clippers are rightfully confident he’s going to stay. That is the feeling around the league, too.

The Clippers will make re-signing Paul their top off-season priority but Clippers vice president of basketball operations Gary Sacks — the GM in practice — sounded very confident speaking to the media on Monday during the Clippers day of exit interviews. From ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Sacks met with Paul on Saturday during the team’s exit interview and believes that he will be back, but was cautious about getting into details with Paul becoming an unrestricted free agent and not being able to sign an extension until July 1.

“A lot of that information we’ll keep private, because that’s an internal thing, but I feel very confident,” Sacks said. “I think he’s an integral part of this. We feel like we had a great partnership for the last couple of years and we want to continue it obviously.”

Paul knows he’s on a team that can win (56 regular season wins this year), has good players and he likes living in Los Angeles.

But there’s another reason he likely stays — he was key in putting this roster together. While Blake Griffin was already here (and already changing the Clippers’ culture) when they traded for Chris Paul, a lot of the roster moves since then — keeping Grant Hill, getting Jamal Crawford — were things Paul wanted.

Mark Heisler wrote about this for Hoopshype.

The insiders learned a year ago that Paul had no intention of leaving, for more reasons that the fact he was on a promising young team in Lala Land. Paul wasn’t just on the Clippers, he had so much input, he was virtually running the team.

It was even acknowledged by a Clippers official, noting, “This is Chris’s roster.”

This is pretty much an open secret around the league.

It’s why nobody thinks Chris Paul is leaving — he has everything he wants in Los Angeles.

Well, maybe except the right coach. But you can bet he has a lot of say on that, too.

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.

Isaiah Thomas: ‘Mentally and emotionally, I’m not here’

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Isaiah Thomas previously explained his emotions in a statement, but the Celtics guard spoke publicly yesterday for the first time since the death of his sister in a car crash just before the playoffs.

Thomas, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

“Mentally and emotionally I’m not here,” Thomas said after Game 4, the first time he has spoken publicly since his sister’s death. “So I just feed off of what the guys give me. They give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me. Being here is what makes me sane and makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”

Thomas has played well for Boston, which won twice in Chicago to even its series with the Bulls, 2-2. It’s remarkable considering the heavy emotional burden and extra travel, going to Seattle for his sister’s funeral then joining the Celtics in Chicago.

His teammates have clearly rallied around him, and that surely helps. But I can’t even imagine how he’s simultaneously handling such a tragic family situation and the biggest games of his career.

Kyrie Irving knocks flamingo from Pacers fan’s hands (video)

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Pacers super fan Matt Asen brings his lucky flamingo to each game.

He also annoyed the heck out of Kyrie Irving by trying to hand it, rather than the ball, to the Cavaliers guard.

James Harden reveals he’s playing through ankle injury

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James Harden didn’t lead the Rockets in scoring in their Game 4 win over the Thunder yesterday.

He didn’t even rank second – or third.

Nene, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each outscored Harden, who scored 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting, including 0-for-7 on 3-pointers.

What happened to the Houston star?

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

Houston Rockets star guard James Harden said he has been hobbled by an ankle injury that occurred in Game 3 of this first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harden made the revelation to ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the Rockets’ 113-109 Game 4 victory on Sunday afternoon.

“It was pretty tough; we don’t make excuses,” Harden said in a news conference when asked about his health. “We just try to go out there and get the job done. You build trust, and trust in your teammates all year long. When there’s moments like this, guys step up and they did tonight. We have another opportunity in a few days to go out there and win on our home court, and we’re going to have to get off to a really good start.”

Many players are grinding through injuries this time of year. Is Harden’s exceptionally bad? There’s no way of telling from the outside.

But he didn’t look quite right in Game 4, and if he’s hobbled, that opens the door slightly wider for Oklahoma City to come back from its 3-1 deficit.