It’s only natural to wonder if James might partner with his best friend and fellow free agent in Paul, and we’ve been wondering for six months or so if that might be the case. But while the Rockets appear resigned to the fact that James won’t be coming their way, they also remain fully confident that Paul is going nowhere. When Paul pushed his way from the Clippers to the Rockets via trade last June, there was a mutual understanding about how his next contract would look. It remains to be seen if it comes in the form of a five-year, $205 million max deal – one that would have him making a whopping $46.7 million in the final year of the deal while nearing the age of 38 – but there remains a strong sense within Rockets circles that he’s staying put.
The Cavs have reportedly pursued a deal for Kemba Walker to bolster their pitch to James, but might they be able to swing a deal for Leonard instead? They might have a better shot than anyone in the West, but they’d be hard-pressed to compete with the kind of packages that teams like Boston and Philadelphia could put forth. According to a person with knowledge of the situation, the Cavs have inquired about Leonard but there is no traction on a possible deal. The Spurs have told teams to put forth offers without any indication of what might come next.
Even with the Thunder coming just two losses away from missing the playoffs, and then falling to Utah in six games during their first-round matchup, there is all sorts of optimism in Oklahoma City that George will re-sign. Conversely, there’s pessimism in James’ camp that George would leave Oklahoma City. George has raved about the Thunder since the beginning, making it clear to USA TODAY Sports in September that the organization had earned his confidence from the start. “I haven’t even gone through a season yet, and they’ve already proven everything on my check list (that) I can check off,” George said then. “That’s what feels good. That’s what makes me feel like, ‘Hey, this can be a landing spot for me, and somewhere I can call home for years.”
Shams Charania: Sources: Carmelo Anthony has informed the Oklahoma City Thunder that he has opted into $27.9M deal for 2018-19 by not exercising his early termination option.
ESPN Los Angeles: “From what I am being told…he’s made it very, very clear that he’s looking to go to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers and he does not care about the $219 million super max he could sign.” – @stephenasmith on Kawhi Leonard
Chris Broussard: From what I’m told, there is tension now between Houston and Chris Paul. Because there was definitely some type of handshake, wink wink, “we’re going to max you out” last summer. But here’s the thing: Now, they’re not so sure. Houston, with good reason, doesn’t want to do that. But they’ve got an out, because they have new ownership. So, Daryl Morey can go to Chris Paul and be like, “I want to do it, but we’ve got the new owner doesn’t want to give you five years, four years.”