Tag:Los Angeles Clippers
Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:54 am
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Pacific Division Preview



By Matt Moore


We're less than two weeks away from the start of the 2011-2012 NBA season. After an interminable lockout and a rushed free agency period, here's a first look division-by-division preview at how the league is shaping up. We begin with the Pacific Division.

2011 Standings:

Los Angeles Lakers, 57-25, lost 4-0 to Dallas Mavericks in 2nd round of Western Conference Playoffs
Phoenix Suns, 42-42, NBA Draft lottery
Golden State Warriors,36-46, NBA Draft lottery
Los Angeles Clippers, 32-50, NBA Draft lottery
Sacramento Kings, 24-58, NBA Draft lottery

Best team: Well, see, the thing is... Chris Paul (UPDATE: TIE- LOS ANGELES LAKERS AND LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS)

Chris Paul was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday night. Even with the Lakers unable to obtain Paul, the combination of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum is probably enough to take the honors here. But with Paul joining Blake Griffin, even without Eric Gordon, the additions of Caron Butler, Chauncey Billups and re-signing DeAndre Jordan make as tough of a team to face as any. Griffin's impact next to Chris Paul is nearly incalculable.

The Lakers may still have the edge, but after the loss of Odom, everything is up in the air as far as who runs Staples now. The reality is that Paul landing in the city of L.A. will shift the division in one direction or another for the next half-decade at least.

Worst team: Sacramento Kings

The Kings are tricky. They have a convoluted backcourt. Tyreke Evans took a step back last season and it remains to be seen if it was all injury-related or not. There's no telling how Jimmer Fredette will adjust to the pro level. Marcus Thornton will struggle for minutes despite his all-around ability. John Salmons is floating around. There were huge chemistry questions last season and the players struggled against coach Paul Westphal at times.

If things don't improve, if DeMarcus Cousins doesn't mature, if Chuck Hayes can't protect the rim enough with his diminutive stature, things could get bad. And yet...

Biggest surprise: Sacramento Kings

There's so much firepower in that backcourt. Untangling it is complicated but they have everything. Shooting, athleticism, size, range, explosiveness, savvy, handle, everything. They have too much ability to not be effective in some ways. Cousins was a beast last season and even a small amount of maturity and development means he could be a near-All-Star (in the East, the West is too stacked). They have young talented bigs and Hayes who provides savvy and veteran knowledge.

The pieces are there. They're going to be exciting, even if they're struggling with an identity.

Three Best Players: Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, Chris Paul

Update: With Paul joining the division, he instantly becomes one of the three best players. The best pure point guard in the league, with excellent shooting touch, terrific defense, and a supreme will to win? He leap-frogs both Pau and Nash. 

Kobe Bryant needs no explanation, even at his age. The end.

Blake Griffin is the most explosive player in the league and the first player in a few years for people to say he could legitimately be the best player in the league at one point. His explosiveness and rebounding is unmatched, his mid-range jumper isn't lightyears away and his defense will get there. Already, Griffin is a force to be reckoned with. What happens when he gets better?

Gasol vs. Nash? Gasol was an early season MVP candidate. He is arguably the most skilled big man in the league (as opposed to Dwight Howard, the most dominant and most talented). And yet his collapse in the 2011 playoffs is the stuff of legend. It was such a complete failure at both ends, when the Lakers needed him most, it's damning. Gasol could very well be the second best player in this division this year. He could also slide back with age.

Nash? Ho-hum, another 50-40-90 season (got to round up for once, but still). His weighted assists, factoring three-pointers assisted on, left him at 13, which means combined with his 15 points per game, he contributed 41 points per game to the Suns. That's absurd. It's also not the highest in the league for a point guard, but it's still an example of how good Nash is. He's flat-out old in relative terms of the league, and yet is in the best shape he possibly could be thanks to conditioning. Nash is still elite, an therefore neither he nor Gasol can be exempted.

Biggest Question: Can Golden State change its stripes?

Mark Jackson has to completely turn what the Warriors know as their identity inside out. They have to commit to defensive principles. David Lee, Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry, these players are not known for this, at all. It's going to take a miracle. If Jackson can get them to buy in and if his system is good enough, the Warriors could make a jump. Kwame Brown helps down low (don't laugh, he's become a quality defender). But there's so much to be done in terms of changing this team's indentity, the Warriors could be in for rocky seas.

2012 Projected Standings:
1. Los Angeles Lakers
2. Los Angeles Clippers
3. Golden State Warriors
4. Phoenix Suns
5. Sacramento Kings
Posted on: December 13, 2011 10:33 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 6:36 am
 

Lakers talking Pau Gasol for Chris Paul trade?

Posted by Ben Gollivercp3-kobe

It's Los Angeles vs. Los Angeles in the Chris Paul sweepstakes.

CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reports that the Clippers continue to be a possible trade partner, should the New Orleans Hornets finally relinquish Paul, their All-Star point guard, after days of rumored trade talks.

ESPN.com reported on Tuesday night that the Lakers, a team that twice had potential three-team deals for Paul struck down by NBA commissioner David Stern last weekend, are back in the thick of it.
The Los Angeles Lakers, however, continue to loom as a potential destination, sources said, despite their apparent exit from the Paul sweepstakes on Saturday. The Lakers walked away from the table after multiple attempts to complete a three-team trade with the Hornets and Houston Rockets for Paul, and then agreed to trade New Orleans-bound Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks instead.

ESPN.com learned Tuesday that a Lakers' deal for Paul has not yet been ruled out, contingent on the fact that they can recruit at least one other team to supply some of the young pieces that the league is demanding. But the Lakers do still have Gasol as a centerpiece, who could either replace Paul as the Hornets' franchise player or give New Orleans a top-20 player to be dangled in subsequent deals.

"The Lakers are definitely still in this," said one source close to the talks.
NBA.com confirms that both the Clippers and the Lakers are "both in play" for Paul's services.
 
Gasol was the best player not named Paul in the earlier three-team framework with Houston, so it was a bit unusual that he was not originally headed back to the team that stood to lose the best player involved. But that was the nature of the Lakers' dilemma, as they simply did not have enough young pieces and/or draft picks to make an enticing offer that would have helped New Orleans rebuild in the wake of the loss of their franchise player. 

Since those talks fell apart, former Hornets All-Star forward David West signed a two-year deal with the Indiana Pacers and Lakers forward Lamar Odom, who would have been sent to New Orleans, was instead traded to the Mavericks. In other words, New Orleans' frontline is now incredibly thin and the prospect of acquiring Gasol could be more palatable than the idea of making do by re-signing free agent forward Carl Landry.

Such a trade would leave Los Angeles with newly-acquired forward Josh McRoberts and center Andrew Bynum up front, pending any other moving pieces. That's not a ton of depth, especially given Bynum's propensity for injury and knuckle-headed behavior. Lakers forward Derrick Caracter suffered a knee injury during training camp on Tuesday, further compromising the Lakers' frontcourt.
Posted on: December 13, 2011 9:51 am
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Posted on: December 12, 2011 9:25 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 9:28 pm
 

NBA, Hornets resurrect Paul talks with Clippers

Posted by Ben Golliver

chris-paul-hornets-clippers

The ceaseless on-again, off-again trade talks involving New Orleans Hornets All-Star point guard Chris Paul are reportedly back on. Monday night, round two with the Los Angeles Clippers commenced.

ESPN.com reported that talks between the league-owned Hornets and Clippers have officially resurrected after being declared dead earlier on Monday.
After a seemingly imminent trade routing Paul to the Clippers collapsed earlier Monday, sources told ESPN.com that the league officials negotiating on the Hornets' behalf had aggressively re-engaged the Clippers in talks in hopes of completing a deal as soon as Tuesday.

The talks hit an impasse earlier Monday when the Clippers decided that the league's asking price for the All-Star guard was too high. But Clippers general manager Neil Olshey said Monday that the trade could be revived if some of the parameters change. And a source close to the process told ESPN that league officials also do not see talks with the Clippers as "over."

The league-owned Hornets and the Clippers could not complete their proposed Chris Paul trade because the Clippers decided the asking price was too high. The NBA remains "hopeful," according to the source, that Paul's fate can resolved "soon."
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported that a source said: "The league has no choice. They have nowhere else to go."

Earlier trade talks had the Clippers sending center Chris Kaman, point guard Eric Bledsoe, forward Al-Farouq Aminu and the Minnesota Timberwolves' 2012 first round pick pick to the Hornets for Paul. Other reported versions of the trade talks also included guard Eric Gordon. The talks reportedly fell apart when the Clippers felt NBA commissioner David Stern, who possesses final authority on personnel moves for the Hornets, was asking too high a price for Paul.

Some variation of the reported package would give the paper-thin Hornets multiple players to plug in as starters plus an excellent building block chip in the 2012 pick. The Clippers are looking to find a premier perimeter player to pair with forward sensation Blake Griffin, recently re-signed center DeAndre Jordan and, ideally, retain Gordon, who is a potential future All-Star at shooting guard. 

The Clippers also claimed veteran point guard Chauncey Billups in an amnesty bidding pool on Monday.
Posted on: December 12, 2011 6:14 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 9:04 pm
 

Clippers claim Chauncey Billups off waivers

Posted by Royce Young

Chauncey Billups made it pretty clear that he only wanted to play for a contending team and not for some young group in a rebuilding mode.

Well, the Clippers must think pretty highly of themselves right now.

The league announced Monday that Billups was claimed off waivers by the Clippers after the Knicks used their amnesty clause on him last week. Billups said shortly after the Knicks used the amnesty on him that he would consider retirement if he was claimed by an unfavorable team.

"If I get claimed by team I dont want to play for, I would absolutely consider retirment," he said.

And not just that, but Billups and his agent actually threatened retirement even if a team claimed him period, as he wanted to be a free agent and have his say where he goes. I guess the Clips really feel like Blake Griffin has changed everyone's opinion about them or something.

Of note: Billups doesn't get any of the $14.2 million he was owed this season by the Knicks if he retires. I'm kind of thinking he's not going to retire.

With all this Chris Paul drama, it's of note: Billups can't be traded until July 1. The Clippers could buy him out though, which made become a real possibility if he doesn't respond well to this.

The Clippers already have Mo Williams playing point and youngster Eric Bledsoe behind him, so it's a little unclear where they could use him. Some thought the Clips would have to amnesty a player in order to get under the cap, but that's inaccurate. They were $3.5 million under the cap and used that space to put in a bid, as DeAndre Jordan's cap hold was only $1.1 million.

There's a decent case to be made that the Clips could be a playoff team. Contender? No way, but they could push for the postseason. Match on Jordan and you've got a starting five of Billups, Eric Gordon, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin and Jordan. With Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes, Bledsoe, Aminu and Kaman off the bench. That's not a bad team at all. Really, Billups would be a little bit crazy to be that upset about this.

All be told though, it's a bit of a curious move by the Clips. A lot of teams were lining up to take a stab at Billups as a free agent -- the Mavs, Heat, Magic, Nets -- but instead, it's the Clippers, a team that doesn't really need him, not to mention the fact Billups might be a bit disgruntled when he shows up. I suppose the Clips could just hand the starting duties to Billups and sit Williams and drop Bledsoe to a third point guard backup role. I don't think that's necessarily an upgrade, but that's probably where they're at.

They want a veteran, proven winner to take the reins of the team and try and inject the talented group with a steady leading presence. It could work. It could be a nice fit and is probably an upgrade from Williams. But it's still a little odd.

It also means the Clippers are very likely out of the Chris Paul derby. This appears to be sort of their backup plan to getting the best point guard in basketball. Go get the 14th best one. Potentially it makes Williams (or Bledsoe) that much more expendable. And in that case, this deal was an extremely wise one.

I have an idea though if that falls through: Chauncey should get Al-Farouq Aminu to give him No. 3. CB3. Close enough?
Posted on: December 12, 2011 5:13 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 5:34 pm
 

Chris Paul Trade Update: Demps a 'spectator' now?

Posted by Royce Young

It's not good to be Dell Demps right now. He's officially the general manager of the New Orleans Hornets, the guy in charge of all transactions and roster decisions of the franchise.

But he might as well be a ballboy. Maybe a ballboy with every NBA GM on speed dial, but that's about the only edge he has at this point.

After Demps has watched three of his trades for Chris Paul fall apart because the NBA wouldn't approve (two Lakers, one Clippers), Demps has to be frustrated. And as Yahoo! Sports reports, he's merely just along for the ride now.

“He’s basically a spectator now,” one official said.

Stern has two of his top league office executives – Joel Litvin and Stu Jackson – making calls and conducting negotiations with teams interested in Paul. Demps is still making calls, but rival front offices and agents involved in possible deals with New Orleans say that he’s no longer authorized to decide on any transaction.

Teams interested in Paul have to send formal “bids” to the league office, sources said.

A lot of people have described this thing as a mess, circus or complete cluster. Choose your word and it probably fits. It's ridiculous, frustrating, maddening and downright stupid. The league has a serious conflict of interest here and two NBA executives are the ones running the show. Does that not completely blow your mind?

It might be one thing if this was all over Jarrett Jack or Quincy Pondexter. But this is about Chris Paul. This is about a deal that will completely alter the landscape of the NBA. And it's a deal that should have been done almost a week ago.

Instead, Big Brother is watching over the Hornets and completely cutting off Demps' manhood. The league said a deal in which Demps put together receiving Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and some picks wasn't enough. The league wanted Eric Gordon, Eric Bledsoe, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu and the very valuable Minnesota 2012 pick, but the Clippers said it was too much.

Basically we're getting the NBA labor negotiations all over again but instead of BRI and mid-level exceptions, we've got Chris Paul and some draft picks.

It might not all be completely over though. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports the league and Clippers are trying to revive a deal. However, as Berger tweeted around 5:30 p.m. ET, "it's over." ESPN.com reports though the league is hopeful the deal will be resolved soon.

So do we. So does Chris Paul. And most especially, so does Dell Demps.
Posted on: December 12, 2011 4:00 am
Edited on: December 12, 2011 2:22 pm
 

Clippers-Hornets Chris Paul deal is 'dead'



By Matt Moore
 

2:25 p.m.: Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that the deal has "died" according to a source. The consensus among reports is that the league demanded too much. At this point it's unclear what exactly they're looking for since any combination on the table was good enough to justify the trade. The nonsense continues. 

1:52 p.m.:
Now, just like that, according to multiple outlets, the deal is pretty much off. Apparently the NBA's asking price is just far too steep for the Clippers.

10:10 a.m.:
And the confusion continues. Yahoo now reports Gordon is not included in the deal, as the L.A. Times reported last night. No word on Bledsoe. 

Update 9:00 a.m.
: ESPN is reporting that A.  Eric Gordon is included in the package and B. Eric Bledsoe is not, which may cause the league to reject. Neither of these statements make sense, so something must get clarified in the next few hours. We'll keep you updated. 

The Los Angeles Times reports that the L.A. Clippers are "close" to a deal for Chris Paul, just days after talks with the Lakers fell apart and less than a week after the league rejected an offer from the Lakers agreed to in a three-way with New Orleans and Houston. 
The Clippers and the New Orleans Hornets were working vigorously Sunday night to consummate a blockbuster deal that would send All-Star point guard Chris Paul to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers' cross-town rivals, said two people with knowledge of the situation who were not authorized to speak on the matter.

The deal hasn't been completed, but both sides were in the closing stages of the negotiations.

The Clippers would send the Hornets center Chris Kaman, backup second-year guard Eric Bledsoe, second-year forward Al-Farouq Aminu and the No. 1 draft pick they got from the Minnesota Timberwolves that is unprotected in the 2012 draft, considered to be one of the best in recent years.

Clippers owner Donald Sterling and the NBA have to sign off on the deal.
via Clippers are close to deal for Chris Paul with Hornets - latimes.com.

SI.com notes that Clippers point guard Eric Bledsoe told associates that he was headed to New Orleans

A huge element here is that Eric Gordon is not included in the deal as constructed, which leads to two questions: 

A. Is that enough for the league not to block the trade?

B. How good would that team be?

In reverse, you'd be looking at the best pure point guard in the league teamed with the most devastating pick and roll power forward in the conference and a near-All-Star perimeter scorer. In, short, it's terrifying how instantly good that team gets, with DeAndre Jordan (should the Clippers match the $44 million offer sheet from Golden State) and Caron Butler (even criminally overpaid). The Clippers would shake off their reputation for once.

But is it enough? The absence of Gordon might be a deal breaker. He's a young star. Great. Excellent. Near All-Star. But not an All-Star, and not worth CP3. His absence isn't justified by his talent, but his talent might necessitate his involvement.

The deal would have huge ramifications across the league, particularly for teams like Boston and Los Angeles, both vying for the All-Star point guard. The Hornets would get the kind of package they actually need, versus the veteran platter of above-average-but-not-great, aging players they were picking up in the Lakers-Rockets tree-way. Al Farouq-Amnu is a hyper-athletic freak with polish, Bledsoe showed great flashes last year, and Kaman would serve as an excellent expiring contract at the deadline. The picks they would pick up would be in one of the best draft classes in the past decade, and they could very well end up with two top-five picks in a stellar class. A combination of Anthony Davis and Bradley Beal or Harrison Barnes, for example, could put New Orleans on the path to recovery very quickly. 

In short, both teams would win here, even if the package doesn't "seem" better.  

The only question now is if they can cross the finish line and shock the world. The Clippers are on the verge of changing the culture of the NBA with three little characters: CP3.
Posted on: December 11, 2011 7:50 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2011 7:55 pm
 

Clippers on Chris Paul's list?

Posted by Royce Young

Chris Paul might be going to Los Angeles after all. Might even be playing in Staples Center.

No, not with the Lakers, but with their roommate, the Los Angeles Clippers. According to ESPN.com, the Clips are on a short list of teams Paul would approve of being traded to Los Angeles to team up with Blake Griffin. But that's only if the Lakers or Knicks can't swing a deal for him. Which at this point, appears unlikely.

The Lakers had a three-way deal worked out to bring Paul to Los Angeles before David Stern and the NBA vetoed it for so-called "basketball reasons." Talks re-engaged, but felt apart again Saturday night when the Hornets reportedly asked for too much. A piece in the trade, Lamar Odom, was then sent to Dallas for a trade exception, essentially busting any chance a deal would go through.

The Clippers understand though that it's a risk to trade for Paul as any team that acquires him runs the risk of him not signing an extension. He likely wouldn't sign one as under the new collective bargaining agreement rules, it's better for a player to wait until his deal runs out and sign a contract in free agency.

Interesting twist to that in this case though: The Clippers aren't asking for Paul to sign an extension yet. All they want is for him to pick up the player option on his contract for 2012-13. That would postpone his free agency one more year. And if CP3 is willing to do that, the Clippers would evidently be open to deal their top two most highly prized assets in Eric Gordon and Minnesota's unprotected 2012 No. 1 pick.

That's very important stuff.

The only way anyone can really see the Clippers landing Paul would be to part with Gordon and the Wolves unprotected pick. And if the Clips were willing to part with those, it's a very real possibility that CP3 could be headed to Clipperland sometime this week.

According to the report, the Hornets have already asked the Clippers for Gordon, Chris Kaman, Eric Bledsoe, Al-Farouq Aminu and at least two future first-round picks for CP3. That's a whole lot of cheese right there. Probably a little too steep for the Clippers, in fact.

But that's more the deal the league evidently is interested in after vetoing the original deal. The original three-way trade with Houston that brought Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and Kevin Martin to New Orleans allowed the Hornets to stay competitive. This new scenario allows them to get younger and rebuild, which apparently is the league's desire.

The Clippers deal is better in my mind, but it's a matter of if the Clips are willing to pay that kind of price just to get Paul for maybe two seasons. Teaming him with Blake Griffin is of course a very exciting prospect, but Gordon is a top 10 scorer with a ton of upside still, Minnesota's pick is maybe the most valuable asset in the league (it could very well turn into Anthony Davis), and Eric Bledsoe is a promising young point guard. That's a whole lot to pay, even for a player of CP3's caliber.

If the Hornets were able to swing this deal, I would give it up to Stern and the league, because it's undeniably better. But it's a big if at this point. Mainly because we're talking about the Clippers here and the fact that Chris Paul would have to buy into them long-term. Seems pretty iffy still to me.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com