The Clippers had their first scrimmage — and Chris Paul’s second ever practice with the team — on Sunday and Clipper fans were ecstatic. As they should be. By all reports Paul looked pretty good but like a guy trying to find his way on a new team.
After the game, Clippers coach Vinny del Negro suggested his new star has not come to camp as ready as can be, via ESPNLosAngeles.com.
“He’s gonna lose a few pounds, he’s gonna feel a little bit better,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said of Paul. “Right now, when you come in, the play-sets are a little bit different, the terminology’s a little bit different. It’s easier, because he’s been around and he knows a lot of this stuff. In this game, if you’re a step slow, you’re in trouble. Every day, he’ll get a little bit more comfortable.”
Way to make points with the team’s new star, coach.
Expect the Clippers to start a bit slow this season — integrating Chris Paul into a growing team will mean some kinks — but by the playoffs the Clippers will be the team in the West nobody wants.
As for Del Negro, his seat is now hot.
The Clippers are a team on the rise and there are questions if he can coach a team up like that. His over reliance on the pick-and-roll may serve him well now, but the fact is there are expectations for the Clippers now and if they don’t live up to them he will take the fall. Then he can join the long list of coaches that have had to sue Donald Sterling to get the rest of his guaranteed contract.
Rumors have swirled about D'Angelo Russell signing with the Timberwolves in free agency this summer.
The huge question: How would capped-out Minnesota make that happen?
Darren Wolfson of SKOR North:
I am told there was some dialogue with Brooklyn to see if the Nets would have some interest in a sign-and-trade, Wiggins for D’Angelo Russell. I don’t sense those talks got even a smidge off the ground. I mean, the Nets are not taking on that contract.
Andrew Wiggins (four years, $122,242,800 remaining) might have the NBA’s worst contract. It’ll be hard to find any team that wants him. Brooklyn – which looks like favorites to land Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant – certainly isn’t using its cap space on Wiggins.
Maybe the Timberwolves have other ideas for getting Russell. This one obviously would’ve favored Minnesota. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
But if this was the Timberwolves’ plan, we can put the Russell-Minnesota rumors to bed.
I’ve been looking all day for an excuse to post this video on a site called ProBasketballTalk.
Jazz center Rudy Gobert – who just won Defensive Player of the Year – provided it.
Everyone frets about young basketball players emulating Stephen Curry. But Patrick Beverley apparently also has influence.
The Knicks will reportedly roll over their cap space if they don’t sign Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving or Kawhi Leonard this summer.
Of course, New York must still field a team for 2019-20. After six straight losing seasons – including a franchise-worst 17-65 this season – the Knicks might even want to be somewhat competitive.
A candidate to fill the roster: DeMarcus Cousins.
Marc Stein of The New York Times:
If the Knicks are intent keeping cap space clear for 2020 (when the free-agent class looks weak) if they strike out this year, Cousins could make sense. His shot-creation skills would raise their floor. He was a star not long ago.
But leg injuries have sidetracked Cousins’ career. He’ll turn 29 before the season. It’s not certain he’ll ever return to form.
For that reason, Cousins might prioritize multi-year offers with more total compensation, even if the annual average salary is lower. He can’t assume he’ll stay healthy and productive next season and that huge offers will follow in 2020.
Of course, Cousins might not get those multi-year offers this summer. That’s why a one-year deal in New York could work for him. It’d be another chance to improve his stock, much like his season with the Warriors was supposed to provide.
I doubt either the Knicks or Cousins want this. New York prefers better players. Cousins surely desires a larger long-term deal. But they might have to settle for each other.
Kevin Durant‘s company moved its office to New York. He could follow, to the Nets or Knicks, in free agency.
Maybe he’s already on the way?
Neal J. Leitereg of the Los Angeles Times:
Kevin Durant has wrapped up some business in Malibu, selling his oceanfront home on Broad Beach for $12.15 million.
Accounting for real estate commissions and other fees, the sale comes out as a bit of a wash for the 10-time all-star. He bought the place last year for $12.05 million, The Times previously reported in April.
Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report:
sources familiar with Durant’s off-court business say Durant has since purchased a new home in New York and moved his belongings there.
Many NBA players spend their offseasons in Southern California. I’m not sure what to make of Durant selling his house there. This isn’t Durant selling his condo in San Francisco, where the Warriors will open a new arena next season.
Buying a place in New York would be more significant, but a player buying a house in a city where he could sign is a classic rumor. It often gets spread whether or not it’s true. I’m skeptical of the sourcing here.
But if Durant no longer plans to play in California, it could make more sense to sell his Malibu home. Of course, he could buy another house near Los Angeles. We just know he sold this specific place on Broad Beach. We can’t extrapolate with certainty.
And Durant could buy a house in New York for the offseason. He might want to be closer to his company in the summer. That doesn’t mean he’ll play for New York or Brooklyn.
So, I’d nudge the odds of Durant leaving Golden State for the Nets or Knicks slightly higher based on this information. But I wouldn’t overreact to it.