Posts Tagged ‘ESPN.com’

Rondo on the move to Dallas


VIDEO: The Inside crew talks Rondo

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Forget February’s trade deadline. Rajon Rondo didn’t even make it to Christmas.

The Boston Celtics agreed in principle to trade Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks for Brandan Wright, Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder and perhaps most important two future Draft picks, per ESPN.com’s Marc Stein.

Rondo went into this season as one of the most likely All-Star caliber players to get moved at the deadline. The idea that a former All-Star and NBA champion would be comfortable sticking around for the arduous rebuilding project underway in Boston always seemed far-fetched. And yet both Rondo and Celtics boss Danny Ainge repeatedly dismissed trade chatter in training camp and earlier this season.

But with the Celtics’ season already destined for another trip to the lottery and the Mavericks recognition that an upgrade at point guard would give them a significant boost in a Western Conference race that is there for whatever team is willing to take the risk to chase it, grabbing Rondo seems like a no-brainer.

Pairing him with Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler, Chandler Parsons and Monta Ellis gives the Mavericks one of the most talented and potent starting fives in the entire league.

Rondo is, or better yet, was, the last remaining member of the starting five from the Celtics’ “Big Three” championship team of 2008 — a group that included of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins.

UPDATE (12:04 AM): Rondo hits Twitter to thank his Boston fans and say hello to his new fans in Dallas …

CP3 boycott talk is doomsday scenario


VIDEO: What happens to the Clippers if they have to play without Chris Paul next season?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — If the Donald Sterling affair didn’t have your undivided attention before, it should now.   

The Los Angeles Clippers’ ownership drama has taken a sinister turn. Clippers superstar and Players Association President Chris Paul is throwing out the possibility of a boycott if Sterling remains owner of the team.

The mere mention, in a probate court hearing, of Clippers president and coach Doc Rivers wanting to go elsewhere if Sterling stays was bad enough. But Paul leading a boycott of his team is a doomsday scenario no one wants to see. If Paul, All-Star Blake Griffin and the rest of the Clippers refuse to take the court when training camp begins, this situation takes on an entirely new dynamic.

Paul and Rivers have discussed what might happen if Sterling remains in control of the team that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has agreed to purchase for $2 billion. Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com caught up with Paul Thursday after he finished up coaching his AAU team in Las Vegas:

“That’s something me and Doc are both talking about,” Paul said Thursday after coaching his AAU program, CP3. “Something has to happen, and something needs to happen soon — sooner rather than later.”

Interim Clippers CEO Dick Parsons testified earlier in the week in state court that Rivers told him on multiple occasions that he doesn’t think he wants to continue coaching the team if Sterling remains in control of the franchise.

“We’re all going to talk about it,” Paul said. “We’re all definitely going to talk about it. Doc, Blake [Griffin], DJ[DeAndre Jordan]. It’s unacceptable.”

“Unacceptable” is the most appropriate term for the ongoing hijacking of the Clippers’ championship window. They didn’t deserve to have their 2013-14 season irreparably damaged in April when Donald Sterling first was caught on tape making racist and derogatory comments, remarks that led NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to ban him from the league for life.

Paul’s dual role as leader of the Clippers and the players’ association requires him to take a dramatic stand if  Sterling is in control of the team when training camps start in early October. Solidarity is a must. A potential boycott may be the only leverage available to players to voice their disappointment in a matter that is going to be decided in the courtroom,  not on the court.

The Clippers considered a boycott when the news of Sterling’s comment broke during the first round of the playoffs in April, but decided to play instead and stage a formal protest by not wearing the Clippers name across their chests during warm ups before Game 5 against the Golden State Warriors.

“It was a real consideration,” Jamal Crawford told us on the Hang Time Podcast after the Clippers’ season ended. “We were all ready to stand strong and do whatever had to be done.”

Rivers is the one who convinced Crawford and the rest of the Clippers to play on. Now, this talk about Rivers bolting and the players boycotting if Sterling remains illustrates the seismic shift in the mood around the organization as the court proceedings continue. Parsons, appointed by the NBA to be the interim CEO of the Clippers, testified in court that the franchise could fall into a “death spiral” if Clippers fans, sponsors, players and coaches flee the scene should Donald Sterling remain the owner.

The closing arguments in the current legal fight — determining whether Sterling’s wife, Shelly Sterling, was within her rights to sell the franchise to Ballmer for that record $2 billion — come Monday in probate court. That’s when we’ll find out if the agreed-upon sale to Ballmer will proceed or all involved will be plunged into even deeper legal waters. (And even if the sale is allowed, there’s a good chance that Donald Sterling will appeal the ruling.)

Deadlines for the sale to be finalized have shifted with each and every legal turn. The initial date was July 15, before the extension to Aug. 15. The NBA will resume termination proceedings if the sale is not closed by Sept. 15. That could provide Paul and his teammates just weeks to decide what they’re going to do before training camp begins.

Based on what he said in Vegas, Paul is still formulating a plan. But it seems as if he and the rest of the Clippers are ready to dig in for a long, hard fight.

Lakers Grind While Waiting On Kobe




VIDEO: Rick Fox sits down for an in-depth interview with Kobe Bryant

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant comeback playbook is written in pencil for a reason. For starters, no one knows for sure when Bryant, who returned to the practice floor in limited fashion over the weekend, will make his official return from the Achilles injury and surgery that ended his 2012-13 season prematurely.

The other variable in this situation is the work being done by Bryant’s healthy teammates. Guys like Steve BlakeXavier Henry, Jordan Hill, Jordan Farmar and Nick Young have had to carry the mantle for Bryant, Steve Nash and even Pau Gasol in early on this season. And they’ve done an admirable job, given the circumstances.

The Lakers are hovering near .500 after Sunday night’s win over the visiting Detroit Pistons. And with Bryant making his way back and Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni getting more and more comfortable with his pieced-together bunch, a season-long fight for that eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference is not totally out of the question for the Lakers.

Kobe told NBA TV’s Rick Fox that if he the playoffs were going on right now he’d be ready to play. That’s a bold statement for a guy who is reportedly just now cranking up his rehab work to the point that he can eye a legitimate timetable for his return. But bold is what we all expect from Kobe. How realistic his stance is, however, is certainly up for debate. Kobe has chosen wisely when pressed for a concrete return date.

“It’s tough because once I’ve set that as a target then I’m hell-bent at doing it at all costs, even to the detriment of the damn Achilles,” Kobe told Fox. “I try to just stay in the moment and really try to listen to my body. The biggest thing is I have not done anything athletically for six months, seven months. You got to get your body back in shape. And doing that, if I was healthy — completely healthy — you have that much time off and get back in shape and your knee is going to ache, your ankle is going to hurt, your back is going to be out. So you got to go through your progressions as you normally would over the course of a summer.”

What cannot be disputed is the Lakers’ relevance if and when Kobe returns to action. If he’s even a reasonable shell of the Kobe Bryant we’ve come to know over the past two decades, he’ll add an element to this team that allows them to compete with the any of the other fringe playoff-chasers in the West.

If he’s the Kobe Bryant we’re used to, then things should heat up considerably for L.A. when he returns. The supporting cast will have to adjust to having him back in the lineup and the entire focus changes with his reintroduction to the flow of this current group.

Unlike last season, when the Lakers struggled to come up with a clear-cut identity with Kobe, Nash, Gasol and Dwight Howard as headliners in D’Antoni’s system, there are no misconceptions about this team. They know exactly who and what they are, relative to what Lakers fans have been used to throughout the Kobe era. They are a blue-collar bunch that awaits the return of the ultimate competitor, a white-collar superstar whose always been a blue-collar worker at his core.

“The identity is going to be: We have to play full-out for 48 minutes,” DAntoni told ESPN.com’s J.A. Adande when asked about the adjustments that will have to be made by all upon Kobe’s return. “And then Kobe comes back and now the identity changes, so we’re OK.”

Everything changes when Kobe comes back.

In the meantime, the blue-collar Lakers have to continue to keep grinding …

Chemistry Issues In Miami?




VIDEO: The Heat get back on track against the Wizards


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – This is a high-stakes game of NBA possum that the Miami Heat will never win, not at this juncture of their title-winning ways.

Four games into their second straight season trying to defend their title, there are rumblings of chemistry issues with this group. Seriously, Heat players are using strange analogies to describe the current state of affairs for a team that still has headliners like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to cover up any deficiencies.

They have earned the right to start a season a bit shaky because we know how they’ll finish the season, if the opportunity presents itself. Dealing a with a few “minor” chemistry issues should not be cause for this sort of alarm. Then you listen to the words coming out of the mouths of players in that Heat locker room and it makes you pause for a second.

You hear Wade say these sorts of things to Mike Wallace of ESPN.com and you wonder if we’re missing something bigger going on:

“Let me give you an example,” Wade said prior to Sunday’s game, which the Heat won 103-93 to even their record at 2-2. “If you’re in a relationship with a woman for a long time, you start getting comfortable. You stop doing the little things that you should do, that you did in the beginning. It’s just like a relationship. We got a little comfortable. Now we have to get back on that edge a little bit.”

Your first instinct is to look across the Heat locker room at James and examine his words and maybe his reaction to what Wade said, which will undoubtedly be relayed to the Heat’s other alpha male. When James mentioned minor chemistry issues and Wade responds the way he did, it becomes painfully obvious that whatever issues exist must be worked out by the two most important men in the room (no offense to Heat boss Pat Riley or coach Erik Spoelstra, but everyone knows that the James/Wade show is what drives the Heat).

“It’s just getting back into it — not taking what we have for granted,” James said moments later when told of Wade’s comments. “We’ve been together so long, you start to think we can go out and make it happen instead of talking through it. We lacked that the last few games. We got a handle on it today, and we know what the issue is.”

We’ll give it a few more games here at the hideout before we go hunting for that Chemistry For Dummies book to figure out the problem. Whatever issues the Heat have right now pale in comparison to what will go on if they continue to play .500 basketball into December and early January.

Based on their recent history, of course, there is little chance of that happening. So 82-0 is already out of the picture. Big deal.

After exhausting themselves last season in a quest to chase basketball immortality, the Heat should know better than anyone that this is a marathon and not a sprint. There is no need to stress a little early season scuffling when all will be forgotten the minute the Heat pile up four or five straight wins.

And save the possum for someone gullible enough to believe these minor issues are anything more than a temporary annoyance for a team that has managed to overcome all obstacles in each of the past two seasons.

Durant Has Earned The Right To Make His Own Free-Agency Decision




VIDEO: Durant burns Nuggets for 36 points in preseason

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The drum beat has already begun for Kevin Durant.

The endless line of questioning, the non-stop speculation and the outright rumors (and lies) about what he’s going to do as a free agent three summers from now is officially a part of our daily NBA conversation. I hate it for Durant and I hate for his Oklahoma City Thunder, whose organic quest for a championship has been one of the better storylines the league has seen in recent seasons.

“Small-market superstars dig in and battle the big-city superstars for supremacy.” It had the makings of great drama from the very start … Durant and Russell Westbrook — and James Harden and even Jeff Green at one time — joining forces in OKC to challenge the establishment.

But like all good things, the reality and the bottom-line nature of the business threatens to derail it completely. ESPN’s Jalen Rose has already fired the first shot, predicting that Rose will bolt for Houston and a seat alongside Harden and Dwight Howard on a championship quest those two stars are just starting.

“I think that after he plays out the couple years on his contract that he goes to Houston to play with Dwight Howard and James Harden,” Rose said in this clip on Grantland.com’s video YouTube channel.

That’s a bold statement indeed, and based on the recent history of stars like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Howard, one that should not be dismissed. The reality for all of these stars is that they will be faced with a similar stay-or-go dilemma at some point in their careers. And the entire drama will be played out in public, with a huge assist from social media.

I’m not nearly as convinced as Rose is about Durant bolting. Durant’s response to Rose’s claim in an interview with the Oklahoman‘s Darnell Mayberry should calm any immediate fears:

Q: Did you hear what Jalen Rose said about the Houston thing?
A: Yep.

Do you have any thoughts on that?
Nah, I’m here for the Thunder (laughs). I mean, that’s all I can say. I’m not thinking far down the line at all. It’s about today. Today we got better against the Chicago Bulls. I can’t tell the future. I can’t speak on that. That’s his opinion. I’m just going to keep playing for the Thunder. I love playing here.

People probably will continue to say that for the next three years.
Unfortunately.

How do you deal with that?
I mean, just let them know I’m not thinking that far down the line, I guess. I mean, I love my teammates. I love where I live. I love playing for this organization. So I’m just taking it a day at a time.

But whatever the three-time scoring champ decides to do, whatever choice he makes in free agency in the summer of 2016, he will have earned the right to make a decision of his own. He’s given the Thunder everything a city and its fan base could ever dream of, short of that Larry O’Brien trophy he is still pursuing.

If Durant decides in two years that he’d rather chase it elsewhere, so be it.

Thunder general manager Sam Presti lives with that reality daily. He knows that there are no guarantees in free agency, not even with a transcendent talent like Durant, whose loyalty to the Thunder has never wavered.

The doesn’t meant these next two seasons won’t be an absolute nightmare for Presti and his crew. That speculation that drives the day for so many will be magnified behind the walls of the Thunder’s headquarters. The way LeBron left Cleveland, Carmelo left Denver and Dwight left Orlando has forced every team to take stock of their situations a bit differently.

And unlike a hometown star like Chicago’s Derrick Rose, Durant’s roots in Oklahoma City don’t run deeper than the six seasons he’s spent with the franchise.

The Thunder also have to deal with the reality of their own situation. There have been some dents in the organization’s armor of late. When Westbrook suffered his knee injury during the 2013 playoffs, the entire world (and more importantly, the rest of the league) got a glimpse of just how vulnerable OKC can be when one of their big two is out.

That deep team that had home-court advantage in The Finals against the Heat two years ago is no more. They’re no longer viewed as that precious team on the rise. They are now a part of the very establishment they were challenging just three years ago.

The perception of what this team is and the reality of what this team is presents the dilemma for Durant that is no doubt coming. Fearless predictions or not, Durant will be a free agent in the foreseeable future. He and his representation, as well as the Thunder’s brain trust, need to be prepared to address it.

Whatever the final outcome, it is (and was) Durant’s decision to make. If he’s learned anything from his contemporaries and the way they handled their business, that should be at the forefront of his mind when we actually get closer to July of 2016. He has to own this decision!

Healthy Wade Key To Heat’s Three-Peat





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The NBA calendar waits for no man, not even one of the game’s all-time greats.

You are either ready for the grind when the curtain comes up on the 2013-14 NBA season or you are not. The 82-game gauntlet that awaits has no mercy.

That’s why it should be comforting news to Miami Heat fans that Dwyane Wade made his way back to the gym this weekend after a two-month layoff to rest the sore knees that have come to define this stage of his stellar career. Wade hasn’t been on the floor since the Heat’s Game 7 win over the San Antonio Spurs in The Finals.

Wade opted for OssaTron Shock treatments for the tendinitis in both knees rather than undergo major surgery, a move that Wade and the Heat have to believe was the best move for a player nearing his 32nd birthday and with a decade’s worth of wear and tear on his body. As important as LeBron James is to the Heat’s bottom line and as invaluable as Chris Bosh might be to what goes on in Miami, a healthy Wade is the key to the Heat’s three-peat hopes.

They won last season with Wade turning in a career-low 15.9 points per game in the postseason. He came alive when the Heat needed him most during the The Finals. But for long stretches throughout the postseason, starting in the first round against Milwaukee, he just didn’t look like himself. The burst and above-the-rim ability that had become his trademark vanished as he battled bone bruises in both knees.

He missed just one game in the postseason, but he was missing in action during plenty of others. Wade isn’t the first superstar to hit his 30s and find his body playing tricks on him. Kobe Bryant has had to deal with his fair share of knee issues, a problem he handled by opting for a blood-spinning procedure in Germany that saw other stars in the NBA and other sports follow after seeing Bryant’s physical resurgence post-procedure.

Wade made a public promise at his fantasy camp Friday to be ready to go when the Heat start training camp.

“I’ll be coming in prepared and ready, but I won’t be ready for opening night,” Wade told reporters. “I’ll be ready for opening night when opening night gets here. I have a good amount of time.”

Time is of the essence for the Heat. Their championship clock is far from over, but it’s ticking towards what could be a crossroads of sorts in the free-agent summer of 2014. Say Wade doesn’t make it through the 2013-14 campaign healthy and the Heat are unable to complete that Three-Peat, things could change dramatically with James, Bosh, the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony and several other high-profile starts all swimming in those free-agent waters.

But if Wade’s shock treatments work and he has the good fortune of avoiding all of the bumps and bruises that have slowed him down recently, the Heat will no doubt ride through the regular season as the favorites to win it all again. And a third straight title and fourth straight Finals appearance will make it tough for anyone to walk away from.

“The challengers are lining up,” said an Eastern Conference executive from a team outside of that group of contenders. “We all know how hard it is to get back on that horse and ride it to The Finals for  third straight year. Everybody understands what kind of toll that takes on the guys who are the true superstars in those situations. If DWade is right and healthy, it’s hard to see anyone knocking them off the top of that mountain. It’s not impossible by any stretch, because Indiana was right there last season. But it is a tall order and nearly impossible with LeBron and healthy Wade doing what they do.”

Wade acknowledged the clear and present danger teams like the Pacers, Knicks, Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets present to the Heat’s three-peat plans. It doesn’t take a pair of BluBlockers to see that the rest of the East is working tirelessly to catch up to the Heat. And that doesn’t even bring the Western Conference challengers into the equation, as he pointed out to Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com’s Heat Index:

“The East obviously has gotten stronger,” Wade said. “Brooklyn has done something unprecedented — to put five All-Star players on the floor at one time. Not that many people have pulled it off, especially with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. When you think of them, you think of Boston. To be able to take them from there and bring them to their team and bring something to their team that they were missing, in the sense of winning and that toughness.”

Wade said that on paper this might be the most competition he’s ever faced in the Eastern Conference.

“This is going to be a tough year for us,” Wade said about the Heat’s pursuit of a three-peat. “We’re walking into uncharted waters. Right now, we’re the standard team because we’ve been the champions the last two years, so other teams are putting teams together to stop that.”

Wade is right, it’s going to be an extremely difficult task trying to three-peat, even if they get all of the injury breaks they didn’t get last season.

The Heat’s mix has changed a bit, too. Mike Miller is gone. Greg Oden has joined them. Ray Allen and Chris “Birdman” Andersen came back. Bosh will no doubt come back with something to prove after taking his share of lumps on the court and from those of us who observe and report on these things.

What hasn’t changed is the formula the Heat need to achieve their goals. The dynamic duo of LeBron and Wade, when healthy, remains the most powerful force in basketball.

And nothing, not even the NBA calendar, can change that!



Pekovic, Wolves Agree To Deal



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – You can finally close the door on the free agent summer of 2013 now that restricted free agent big man Nikola Pekovic has agreed to a five-year, $60 million deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves (as first reported by Marc Stein of ESPN.com and confirmed by Wolves boss Flip Saunders).

Pekovic was the last big name on the marquee without a deal this summer, a group headlined by now Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard and Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul.

By locking up Pekovic long-term the Timberwolves are now set with a core of All-Star power forward Kevin Love, Pekovic in the middle and point guard Ricky Rubio as the headliner in the backcourt. That’s an excellent place for Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman to start with his playoff plan for the 2013-14 season, provided all of his major players stay healthy. Love missed all but 18 games last season with injuries and Rubio played in 57 games as he returned from knee surgery of his own.

Pekovic emerged as a low-post force for the Timberwolves last season, averaging 16.3 ppg and 8.8 rpg while starting in all 62 games he played in last season. A skilled, 6-foot-11, 290-pounder, Pekovic is the ideal counterpart to pair with Love, whose range extends beyond the 3-point line. They’ll form a dynamic inside-out big man duo for a Timberwolves team that has legitimate playoff aspirations next season.

Signing Pekovic was work Saunders needed to get done as well. After a busy summer that saw them add quality veterans like Corey Brewer, Chase Budinger, Kevin Martin and Ronny Turiaf, keeping Pekovic from unrestricted free agency next summer was an absolute must. Even more important, a deal with Pekovic gives the Timberwolves some much-needed security at the center position going forward.

Report: Wall, Wizards Close On Extension



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LAS VEGAS – John Wall is still in the formative stage of his NBA career but the Washington Wizards believe the best is certainly yet to come for their star point guard. The next step, of course, is working on a long-term extension for Wall, a process that has progressed rapidly.

The two sides are reportedly close to a deal for five years and $80 million. Wall, who is in town this week for USA Basketball’s Men’s National Team mini-camp,  and the Wizards could have the deal locked down by Aug. 1, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein.

The sides have until Oct. 31 to come to an agreement on an extension or Wall would be a restricted free agent during a loaded summer of 2014. But that’s a scenario the Wizards are clearly trying to avoid by offering Wall, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 Draft, a monster deal.

Wall, 22, dazzled the second half last season, returning from a knee injury to average 18.5 points, 7.6 assists and 4.0 rebounds in the final 49 games of the 2012-13 season. Wall is the linchpin to the Wizards’ franchise revival and the this sort of contract is proof that the Wizards are convinced that he is indeed the franchise player they thought he was when they drafted him.

Fearless Cavs Offer Bynum 2-Year Deal


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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – From Dion Waiters to Anthony Bennett and now Andrew Bynum, Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant is fearless.

In a copycat league, he’s decided to go his own way and usually in dramatic fashion.

We’ve come to expect the unexpected from Grant in the Draft, both Waiters in 2012 and Bennett last month were surprising picks at No. 4 and No. 1 overall, respectively.

Grant doubling down on Bynum in free agency though, with a reported two-year deal that could be worth some $24 million with incentives, pushes the envelope to the brink.

Yes, there is a team option on the second season and plenty of incentives. So Grant has covered himself in ways the Philadelphia 76ers could not when they acquired Bynum in that blockbuster Dwight Howard trade last summer from the Los Angeles Lakers. The fact that they are even entertaining the risk of adding Bynum to a roster that was ravaged by injuries last season (most notably to Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao) tells you how desperate the franchise is to rise from the ashes of The Decision and move back into playoff territory.

Grant obviously isn’t alone in his risky business this summer. Bynum has face-to-face meetings scheduled with the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks this week, following Monday’s visit to Cleveland. I don’t care if he works out for these teams or not, entertaining the idea of adding him to your team (I don’t care what the price) is an extremely dicey gamble.

Bynum has experienced more highs and lows than your average 25-year-old should-be-dominant low-post monster. He’s got two championship rings, but also has only played more than 65 games just once in his eight seasons in the league. The talent is undeniable. Players his size and with his skill-set are rare.

I’m just not sure that being on the NBA’s endangered species list warrants the sort of pursuit we are seeing. The Mavericks and Hawks are desperate for big man help as well, and they could both use a healthy Bynum in the worst way.

How much are they willing to risk to take that chance?

A colleague and good friend suggested that the risk isn’t as great as some (me) are making it out to be.

“The second year is an option, right?” he wrote. “Makes it less of a gamble if they can drop him next summer and still have space for LeBron [James].”

Yeah, that sounds great until you remember that the Cavaliers cannot continue to play the waiting game year after painful year. After all, they were supposed to win a title or two before LeBron won anything in Miami, a prediction that came crashing down in the worst way.

I’ve heard all of the arguments to the contrary …

What if Bynum’s knees hold up?

What if he reverts back to the form he showed in his final season with the Lakers, when he averaged career bests in points (18.7), rebounds (11.9) and minutes (35.2) to go along with 1.9 blocks?

What if at 25 he’s still got five or six great years left in him, in those knees?

What if? is a loaded phrase lottery teams use to justify off-the-track decisions that usually come back to bite them in the end.

That’s a phrase the Cavaliers should avoid at all costs if they are intent on becoming the playoff team that gambler of a general manager of theirs believes they could be this season.



No Surprise, Paul Sticking With Clippers




HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – In what has to be the one and only lock of the NBA’s crazy season (also known as free agency), Chris Paul is reportedly forgoing the formal recruiting process and sticking with the Los Angeles Clippers.

This is a move, first reported ESPN’s Chris Brousssard, that was all but cemented the moment the Clippers hired Doc Rivers away from the Boston Celtics and moved him into position as their head coach and senior vice president of basketball operations earlier this week.

One of the top two players on the free agent market this summer, along with Dwight Howard of the Los Angeles Lakers, Paul won’t bother flirting with the other teams that planned to pursue him and will instead end the process before it gets started.

Kudos to Paul for handling his business in this manner. He could have turned his decision-making process into a complete circus and made the rounds, just because he could. But why go through all of that when you know exactly what you want to do? Rivers and Paul together gives the Clippers an ideal nucleus for whatever championship ambitions they have for the foreseeable future.

And his quick commitment this summer sends a message to whoever else the Clippers pursue now and in the future, that Paul is a firm believer in the plan and serious about winning at the highest level with the organization.

What the Clippers do with Pau’s backup, however, remains to be seen. With the Toronto Raptors and others reportedly in hot pursuit of Eric Bledsoe, Rivers and the rest of the Clippers’ brain trust will have to decide if moving him now in a package that allows them to strengthen the roster with perhaps an experienced shooting guard is more beneficial than Bledsoe spending another year backing Paul up before he becomes the object of free agent affection in the summer of 2014.

The most important business, though, appears to be complete with Paul’s camp letting it be known that he intends to stick with the Clippers long-term.