“I’m confident (Griffin and Paul want to stay),” Rivers added. “Probably the same way every team’s confident that they’re going to be able to keep their guys. I do think we have an attractive place. We have a new owner. It’d be interesting if Steve Ballmer wasn’t the owner, I don’t know how confident I’d be. But with Steve I’m extremely confident that we can keep both.
April 16, 2021 | 5:36 am EDT Update
While Jokic is miles ahead of the field, his point total is right in line with where the winners landed each of the past few seasons. What is different, however, is that there is no clear second-place finisher. Since the league shifted to the current voting format in 2017, second place has earned at least 738 points. Embiid, who received five of the remaining 11 first-place votes, was second with 401 points — not much more than half of that typical amount. Antetokounmpo (no first-place votes, 375 points), the two-time reigning MVP, was a close third, with Damian Lillard (two first-place votes, 67 total votes, 283 points) in fourth and Harden (one first-place vote, 62 total votes, 231 points) in fifth.
James, meanwhile, went from getting more than half of the first-place votes in the last straw poll to getting none this time. He was left off nearly two-thirds of the ballots entirely, garnering just 37 total votes and 105 points. He was just ahead of Chris Paul, who had two first-place votes and 98 total points, with Kawhi Leonard (80 points, including one first-place vote) in eighth, Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (28 points) in ninth and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (26 points) in 10th.
Duane Rankin: Kings coach Luke Walton said there “is room” to put Chris Paul in the MVP conversation. Paul on his way to his 17th double-double this season. Has nine points and eight assists as #Suns have 84-77 lead with 6:51 left in the 3rd quarter.
Enter Deck, who not coincidentally signed for $3.9 million. Is he an NBA player? Probably not. He had failed to make an impression as a younger player, going scoreless in the 2013 Hoop Summit and going undrafted in 2017. Now 26 years old and playing in Spain as a 6-foot-6 power forward with limited athleticism, nobody I talked to is that excited about him as an NBA prospect. His best-case scenario would be to get by enough on smarts and craftiness to carve out a back-end rotation spot. Deck’s main utility was that he was available via an in-season buyout, a rarity with European contracts.
In 2014, he said he wanted to stay in Portland and cement his legacy as the greatest Blazer of all time… then he chose to leave for San Antonio less than a year later in free agency. And while in San Antonio, he said he would like to one day reunite with Damian Lillard and end his career in Portland … then when presented with just that chance after a San Antonio buyout this spring, he instead chose Brooklyn. In between his mixed messages, there were some incredible moments. Some incredible production. And some real growth as a person. But there was also a lot of bitterness, pettiness and moodiness that led to much of the hurt.
Behind the scenes, though, it was a struggle. He battled insecurity, never feeling he was valued as much as Brandon Roy or even Greg Oden. He brooded during his early years with Roy, much of it stemming from him not being asked to a dinner in Memphis, which turned out to be more of a miscommunication than a slight.
And he struggled with bitterness and pettiness as he felt threatened by Lillard’s emergence in 2012, and the adoration of the city that was quickly heaped upon the young guard. He would turn down NBA public service announcements, then complain when Lillard did them, pointing it out as proof the organization favored Lillard.
The last two times I talked to Aldridge in San Antonio, I was struck by how at peace he seemed, and how much his perspective had changed. There was no angst about where he stood or how he was perceived. He smiled easily, talked about the importance of family, and was curious about people within the Blazers’ organization.