Chris Mannix: The Chris Paul player option — $44.2 mi…

Chris Mannix: The Chris Paul player option — $44.2 million — will be interesting to watch. Execs I’ve talked to peg CP in the three-year, $60 million-ish range on a new deal. Does Paul go for the most guaranteed money? Or does he pick up the option and bet he has another All-Star season?

More on Chris Paul Free Agency

Paul has a $44.4 million player option, which according to several sources, he intends to decline with hopes of inking a new multiyear deal (perhaps in the $100 million range over three seasons). It’s unclear if his recent shoulder injury changes his plans.
Chris Paul could become a free agent this offseason if he declines his 21-22 player option with the Phoenix Suns. Paul could also do an extension beyond the 21-22 season. "It certainly seems to me it's hard to see him go somewhere else," said Adrian Wojnarowski. "He wanted to be there. He had to convince Phoenix a little bit that they were ready for him."
Wojnarowski also mentioned that the New York Knicks could be a "leverage point" for Paul in any potential negotiations with the Suns. The Knicks are run by Paul's former agent Leon Rose and they both have cap space and a need for point guard.
I bring up Hayward because of the similarity of their contractual situations. Paul has a player option for 2021-22 that pays him $44 million, so he’s not walking away from that for just anything. But as with Hayward a year ago (who turned down a $35 million option once four years and $120 million were on the table from Charlotte), one wonders if Paul might walk away from the option year if a longer deal for less annual money were out there. He won’t lack for suitors. Dallas, for instance, is craving a secondary ballhandler to pair next to Luka Doncic and just so happens to have about $35 million in cap room coming its way. Could the Mavs offer a three-year deal worth $110 million to lure CP3 to Texas as the third pillar of an All-Star triangle next to Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis?
A few wilder scenarios also stand out. What about a return to New Orleans, for instance? The Pelicans could get to $30 million, cap-room wise, if they let Lonzo Ball walk and use the stretch provision on Eric Bledsoe. And the Knicks, of course, will always lurk as a team willing to overpay for a star. New York needs a point guard, is firmly in win-now mode and could offer Paul his max, $124 million over three years … while still having $20 million or so left over to bring in more help.
It’s too soon to tell how well the Suns’ and their point guard’s timelines will sync up. Paul has a player option worth $44 million for 2021-22, but if his play and the team’s results both shine, he could be on the move again just as Booker, Ayton, Bridges and the rest are hitting their stride. For now, though, there’s an unmistakable sense of ownership, even pride, in Paul’s voice when he talks about the Suns’ capacity to win and build at the same time. “I’m gonna tell you something: Win or lose this game, I already know who this team is,” Paul said after Friday’s victory. “I know who every guy on this team is. I know what they’re made of. I know the kind of energy they bring … Regardless of what happens night in and night out, I know what type of team we have and what each guy represents.”
Oklahoma City Thunder star Chris Paul dismissed the idea that being stuck on a rebuilding team in OKC next season will be a problem in an interview during Game 3 of the NBA Finals Sunday night. "I just love to hoop," Paul said while watching as a virtual fan, talking to the broadcast team of Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson. "[Former Thunder coach] Billy Donovan was amazing. My teammates have been amazing. "So, for me, you call it twilight years, I call it a blessing. Just being able to compete at a high level at 35 years old, [I'm going to] just keep rolling."
“January was like a lifetime ago… You told Sports Illustrated at that point that you didn’t have any plans to opt out of the last year, $44 million, of your contract to seek a trade or anything like that… Where are you with that today?” Kellerman asked. Paul remained consistent. “I don’t control that… Sam Presti has been amazing this year and Oklahoma was amazing, obviously we’ll see what happens this summer or whatnot. It’s nice to be here and be close to my family. I think for me, I’m gonna let everything play out, see what happens, but I’m in a good place. I wish we could’ve kept advancing in the playoffs, but I don’t have no plans of opting out no time soon, neither.
Paul is not going to make any grand sacrifices to place himself on another superteam. When asked whether he would waive the final year of his contract—a $44.2 million option for 2021–22 that’s seen as the biggest obstacle for teams interested in acquiring him—if it meant he could be traded to a championship contender, Paul answers swiftly: “No chance. That’s not happening. Nope.”
Bobby Marks: The breakdown of the $160M Chris Paul contract is: $35.6M, $38.5M, $41.4M and $44.2M. Paul is now the second highest paid point guard, only behind Steph Curry at $37.5M.

http://twitter.com/CP3/status/1013271051764158464
The Houston Rockets, meanwhile, are widely expected to simply focus on re-signing their free agents Paul and Clint Capela in hopes of bringing back essentially the same team that fell just one win short of an N.B.A. finals berth. They’re scarcely even mentioned anymore as a potential James destination.

http://twitter.com/Rachel__Nichols/status/1011481157865598976
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.
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.”
David Hardisty: According to @Adrian Wojnarowski, Chris Paul isn't focused on his own free agency as much as he is bringing talent to Houston. "Somebody close to (Paul) said to me that he has his focus on recruiting LeBron (to Houston) as anything he's done in this league."
My best forecast at this juncture? Fixate on Chris Paul. If Paul stays with the Rockets, Houston becomes a dangerous player, no matter how complicated it would be for the 65-win Rockets and their general manager, Daryl Morey, to orchestrate the requisite salary-cap gymnastics to bring James in. But don’t discount the idea that James could try to bring Paul with him to a team that can afford two superstars, such as the Lakers, because he and Paul really are that close.
If Paul stays with the Rockets, Houston becomes the closest thing to a favorite on my scorecard, no matter how complicated it would be for the 65-win Rockets and their general manager, Daryl Morey, to orchestrate the requisite salary-cap gymnastics to bring James in. But don’t discount the idea that James could try to bring Paul with him to a team that can afford two superstars, such as the Lakers, because he and Paul really are that close.
Adrian Wojnarowski: "When the Rockets made that deal for Chris Paul, knowing they would re-sign him [once he hit free agency], they made a conscious decision that they were gonna have to live with [paying him] $46, $47 million a year salary when he's not nearly the player anymore in his late 30s, but, 'we're gonna make a run at it now, we wanna win a championship now. We'll deal with it [Paul's contract] later.' We'll see how that plays out in their contract talks [with Paul] here in free agency. Chris Paul didn't turn down $200 million from the Clippers because he thought that somehow the Rockets were gonna talk him into saving them luxury tax money. I don't imagine it playing out that way."
They are underdogs, maybe big ones, but Morey has long promised that he will go for it if he thinks Houston has even a 5 percent chance of winning a ring. He will hunt likely LeBron this summer, per league sources, and hopes to sign Paul to another long-term deal. With Clint Capela and Trevor Ariza headed toward free agency, just bringing this group back could vault Houston well into the luxury tax. Tilman Fertitta, the team's new owner, has said he would pay the tax to preserve a contender.
"We think we have a five-year window with Chris and James," D'Antoni says. A max deal for Paul would be a risk given his age and injury nicks, but Morey will gamble to wring everything from Harden's prime. "It will be up to Chris," Morey says, "but we feel good about it."
As for how Houston could find a way to give max salary contracts starting at $35 million annually to both James (who has a player option worth $35.3 million for next season) and Paul (who will be a free agent) without the necessary cap space, Morey would indeed have to become a salary cap gymnast. The NBA salary cap is expected to be $101 million next season, and the Rockets are, well, capped out. But Morey is one of the league’s renowned risk takers, the kind of relentless executive who might already have hypothetical trades lined up for players like Ryan Anderson and others who would have to go for the Rockets to be able to sign one of the greatest players of all time in James. It’s also seen as possible that, like Kevin Durant did last summer with the Warriors, Paul could take less money to make James’ salary fit.
“We’ve had high-level discussions [with Paul about his future],” Morey told The Crossover, noting that Harden’s recent $228 million extension provides a “signaling aspect” to other stars that Houston caters to its marquee players. “[Paul] hopes to continue with Houston. He likes the team, the organization and the city. In terms of him actually signing long-term, that’s something that won’t be decided until next year.”
Jerry West says his new role with the L.A. Clippers DOES NOT require him to get involved in the efforts to resign Blake Griffin and Chris Paul ... telling TMZ Sports, "It's not my responsibility." West was playing coy when we saw him leaving Caffe Roma in Bev Hills on Tuesday -- saying it's up to other key members of the organization to bring in the players ... "I'm just an adviser."
The Rockets still have work to do in terms of clearing sufficient salary-cap space to make a representative offer for Paul, but sources said that Houston star James Harden has been advocating hard in favor of the Paul pursuit and has made his interest in teaming with the LA Clippers' All-Star known directly to the point guard.
The Clippers, sources say, continue to worry that they won't be able to convince Paul to remain despite their considerable financial advantage over external suitors.
ESPN's Marc Stein first reported that the Spurs are attempting to create salary-cap flexibility to pursue Chris Paul this summer, and a combo acquisition of the Clippers' All-Star point guard and Iguodala has been discussed internally, sources say. The Spurs have made LaMarcus Aldridge and Danny Green available for trades, according to sources.
The Houston Rockets are aggressively trying to make trades in conjunction with Thursday's NBA draft to create the needed financial flexibility this summer to pursue a marquee free agent, according to league sources. Sources told ESPN on Wednesday that the Rockets have at least four top-tier free agents in their summer sights: Atlanta's Paul Millsap, Toronto's Kyle Lowry and the LA Clippers duo of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
Colin Cowherd: “Is Chris Paul the priority though?” Jerry West: “Well, I’ve only been here a few days. I know how they value him, so obviously he would be a priority. Chris is one of my favorite players I’ve seen this in this league. He just plays the game, he’s an incredible defender, unbelievable competitor and everyone here is hopeful he comes back, for sure.
There’s all kinds of work to do before then, like re-signing James’ close friend/Clippers point guard Chris Paul this summer (which is still believed to be likely) and convincing five-time All-Star forward Blake Griffin to come back too (which is considered more dicey).
"Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony should have been walking arm in arm to go greet Chris Paul for free agency," said Adrian Wojnarowski. "There's an opportunity to get Chris Paul on this market. He may stay in L.A. and part of it might be because there's nowhere else that makes perfect sense that is worth giving up the money for, but he may go. New York should have been in the Chris Paul conversation.”
Paul also has plans to talk with the Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets, one executive said. Griffin can sign a five-year deal worth $175 million with L.A., or sign a four-year deal worth $130 million with another team. The Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder are two teams that will make a bid for Griffin, according to several executives. “West knows he has a big task ahead of him with the Clippers,” one executive said. “But he feels as if Steve Ballmer is going to be one of the great owners in this league.”
The Clippers have recently become “nervous” about the reports that San Antonio will make a big push to get Paul and that the point guard has interest in talking to and possibly joining the Spurs, said one executive who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
The Spurs don’t do Draconian, especially when it involves franchise icons like Parker and Ginobili. Stein reported that his source believes the Spurs are all but guaranteed a face-to-face meeting with Paul, should he become a free agent, but Western Conference basketball management types aren’t losing sleep over the prospect of another conference superteam, this time based in San Antonio. "I think all that talk is nothing more than leverage," one Western Conference basketball executive said Thursday. "Chris is just trying to make sure he can leverage Doc (Rivers). "If you’re the Clippers, don’t you have some reservations about giving him that big commitment? I know I would. So, if you’re Chris, you’ve got to create some interest out there in the league that then puts pressure on your own people to give you what you want."
Jody Genessy‏: STOP THE PRESSES!!!!!! FIRE UP THE WEBSITE!!!!!!!

http://twitter.com/DJJazzyJody/status/875094233300041728/photo/1
All-Star point guard Chris Paul intends to give the San Antonio Spurs serious consideration in free agency this summer in the event he decides to leave the LA Clippers, according to league sources. Sources told ESPN that Paul, for all of his undeniable fondness for Los Angeles, is intrigued by the idea of teaming up with the likes of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Most Valuable Player top-three finalist Kawhi Leonard in his quest to achieve the deep playoff success that has eluded Paul to this point in his career.
The Spurs, sources say, are increasingly considered a lock to at least secure a face-to-face meeting with Paul when free agency begins July 1, despite the fact San Antonio would almost certainly have to sacrifice considerable roster depth to make him a representative contract offer.
"Not that I see," Wojnarowski said of Paul's chances of ending up with the Spurs. "I don't know where that came from. I've spent a lot of time around the Spurs this spring. They would have to just tear up that entire payroll. It's almost unlike anything the Spurs would've done or would do to even have a chance at him. I mean, they'd have to really gut the roster. And to do that for a 30-plus year old point guard, who has a couple great years left, there's no question -- I think there's more pressure on the Clippers to have to re-sign him than for the Spurs to turn their whole franchise over to make a run at him.”
"Listen, Chris Paul, financially, the difference with him staying in L.A. and to get paid, I'd have a hard time imagining him leaving there," continued Wojnarowski. "There's so much money for him to be made and at that Los Angeles market, just in terms of his marketing endorsements, I still think they're a pretty overwhelming favorite to re-sign him."
The San Antonio Spurs are exploring the feasibility of making a free-agent run at All-Star point guard Chris Paul, league sources told ESPN. Sources say the Los Angeles Clippers, meanwhile, regard the threat of San Antonio signing away Paul as a legitimate concern, even though the Spurs, at present, have virtually no salary-cap flexibility.
The Clippers are widely regarded as strong favorites to retain both Paul and fellow free agent-to-be Blake Griffin when they hit the open market July 1, given their financial advantages over competing teams in trying to sign them. But the Clippers' nagging inability to dodge injuries and reach the conference finals even once in Paul's five seasons there has given interested suitors such as San Antonio hope that he will strongly consider external interest.
‎The Spurs and Clippers would also naturally have the ability to engage in sign-and-trade talks if Paul were to decide he wants to continue his career in South Texas as opposed to Hollywood. Yet it should be noted that Paul, in a sign-and-trade scenario, could not get the five-year, $205 million deal; such a swap would merely allow San Antonio to clear cap space by sending assets back to the Clippers in exchange for Paul.
So when we got Rivers out at Madeo we had to ask about Paul's future with the team, being that Doc is the Clippers prez, and the only guy who can make the trade happen. And according to Doc ... it ain't happening ... 'cause he told our guy Paul is 'absolutely' staying with the Clippers, and he seemed pretty concrete on it.
During an interview with ESPN's Kevin Arnovitz on his podcast on Tuesday, colleague Zach Lowe said he thinks there is legitimacy behind the speculation that Paul will go to the San Antonio Spurs next season.
"There's been a lot of rumblings about Chris Paul, and I think that's real," Lowe says. "I think there's mutual interest there. I don't know how real it is given the Clippers can offer a gigantic amount of money and are also a really good team; and the Spurs, like I said, have no sort of cap flexibility to get there. I'm very curious about what they do this summer and who's on the team next year."
After six years with the Clippers, Paul has a choice: Stick with the team or go elsewhere in free agency. It seems unlikely Paul will leave — after all, he engineered a change in the new collective bargaining agreement to allow him to get a five-year maximum contract — but it remains in play. Paul likely will be among the most prominent free agents this summer, but he’s expected to remain in Los Angeles.
According to several NBA officials who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter because of the sensitively of contract talks, the Clippers hope to re-sign Paul and Griffin after both exercise their early terminations.
Sources inside and outside the organization have told The Times that the Clippers hope to re-sign Paul for the maximum deal. The sources requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the situation.
Mark Medina: Chris Paul on Clippers' needs offseason: "That’s not my job. My job is to come in the best shape possible to try to lead my team."
THE CLIPPERS FACE A RECKONING this summer when Paul, Griffin and Redick enter free agency. Ballmer says the Clippers don't have any interest at present of blowing it up. "I love those guys, and I want those guys back," Ballmer says, adding that he's amenable to swallowing a large luxury-tax bill, which would come due with new contracts for his players. "If we're in it and we're playing for a championship, I don't mind the tax," Ballmer says.
The 31-year-old Paul and the 28-year-old Griffin will be seeking maximum-salary contracts, deals that would respectively start at approximately $35 million and $30 million annually. Redick, the 32-year-old who was recruited by Rivers not long after he arrived from the Boston Celtics in the summer of 2013, is sure to land a massive payday as well. Working projections peg the total at approximately $196 million in all, with $140 million in salaries and $56 million in luxury tax (and Redick, in that scenario, having a starting salary of approximately $18 million).
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin can – and are expected to – opt out of their contracts and become free agents, while J.J. Redick will be an unrestricted free agent. “Everybody knows free agency,” Austin Rivers said. “That’s not a question. We’ve got a lot of free agents this summer, too. So that adds to it.”
The same is basically true of Chris Paul. He’ll opt out of his final $24.26 million and ink a new deal with the Clippers for north of $200 million. While Knicks fan often dream of a Carmelo Anthony-Paul tandem, it’s not going to happen. Sources close to the process said that it’s already been verbally agreed to and it’s simply a function of the calendar and the new Collective Bargaining Agreement kicking in.
This summer Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul will both become free agents – and New York can create enough cap space to sign one of them - but the Knicks’ predicament has turned Anthony’s longstanding dream into the pipe variety. Unless he leaves New York. “I don’t know where that would be able to happen. It’s always a dream,” he said. “They’re all in the same boat I’m in. It’s hard to think about something else when Chris is going through his surgery and (Wade) is going through what they’re going through in Chicago. I think it’s hard to start thinking about that at this point right now. I think everybody just needs a break, everybody is waiting for the break to decompress and re-evaluate.”
Steve Ballmer, L.A.'s moneybags owner, has already said he'll pay the cost. Maxing out Griffin is a no-brainer, and the team expects Paul to demand the full five-year max (or whatever the longest possible deal ends up being in the revised collective bargaining agreement) to stick around, per several league sources. That would take him well past age 35. Gulp. Suitors will line up for Redick.
So after three years of Ballmer's ownership, it might just be long enough to draw some conclusions. Most importantly, according to Clippers insiders, is his commitment to keeping both Griffin and Paul long term no matter what it costs.
Still, Rivers realizes those rumors could resurface in February if the Clippers aren’t faring well. No team wants to be put in Oklahoma City’s situation, in which it waits on a player to make a decision at the end of his contract only to be left with no compensation if he goes elsewhere. “Blake and CP are free agents and just like last year, Oklahoma had to deal with that — now it’s our turn,” Rivers said. “It’s been a sense of urgency since we’ve been there, in my opinion. And we haven’t followed through yet, and there’s another sense of urgency here. We’re not the only ones. Everyone has a sense of urgency.”
Jordan said there wasn’t any more urgency to win next season, simply because Paul and Griffin can both become unrestricted free agents in the summer of 2017. “They’re both extremely talented players,” Jordan told The Vertical. “I believe whatever decision they make is going to be a great decision. I’m not worried about it right now. I don’t expect it to be a distraction during the season. I can’t speak for them, but at the end of the day, they’ve got to make the best decision for themselves and their families. Whatever happens, happens.”
"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.
Storyline: Chris Paul Free Agency
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June 24, 2021 | 9:18 pm EDT Update

Mavericks offer Nico Harrison a front office leadership position

Tim MacMahon: Sources: Mavs have offered Nike executive Nico Harrison a front office leadership position. Dallas wants him to work in tandem with Michael Finley. Harrison and Finley are both close with Jason Kidd, who is expected to be the Mavs’ next head coach.
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Cavs exploring trade options for Collin Sexton

According to league sources, the Cavaliers have begun to explore trade options involving leading scorer Collin Sexton. Sexton, 22, is extension-eligible this summer, averaged 24.3 points per game last season, and appears likely to seek a maximum contract. Also eligible for an extension is 23-year-old center Jarrett Allen, who is also expected to command a lucrative deal.

Pistons considering several options for No. 1 pick

Based on some of the chatter I heard over the course of this season, there was enough love for Cade Cunningham atop the draft that he felt easy to pencil in, regardless of who won the lottery. That no longer appears to be the case. In addition to Cunningham, league sources expect USC’s Evan Mobley and G League Ignite’s Jalen Green to receive serious consideration from the Pistons’ front office, led by general manager Troy Weaver. The strong sense I’ve gotten is that Detroit will explore all its options before committing one way or another, and that the decision on who to take is far from a done deal.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 497 more rumors
Wrapping up with some minutiae: as it turns out, the Pistons and Cavaliers got lucky twice on lottery night. The way the lottery works is that the league draws combinations for the first four slots in order, with any team repeats being thrown out and re-drawn. According to a source with knowledge of the proceedings, the NBA had to draw six times for four slots, with the order being Detroit, then Houston, then Detroit again, then Cleveland, Cleveland again, and finally, Toronto. Conspiracy theorists, do your worst.