Sarver left things more open than expected, considering Paul led the Suns to their first NBA Finals appearance since 1993. “I don’t know — it’s kind of interesting,’’ Sarver said on the Phoenix radio show “Burns and Gambo.” “I had some discussions with him after the season. I said, ‘You’ve only been part of the organization for nine months. There’s really not a lot of history here. From a team perspective it was my best season in 17 years and it was your best season in 16 years.’ So there’s really a lot there to keep the two of us together — the Suns and him. “But he’s got a decision to make. A business decision, family decision. Unfortunately, it’s not our decision. It’s his decision. He’ll have to decide whether he’s going to become a free agent or opt into his contract. We’ll know that in the next three days.”
Kellan Olson: Suns owner Robert Sarver said on @BurnsAndGambo that he doesn't know right know what Chris Paul is going to do with his player option. Says that Paul has a decision to make and there probably will be other teams interested in him.
Paul, for his part, has indicated he's willing to opt out of his $44 million deal for next year, sources say, though taking that position could be a leverage play with the Suns under pressure to keep him. Paul can sign a three-year contract without triggering the Over-38 rule -- CBA minutiae that complicates contracts for players who have deals that stretch beyond their 38th birthday -- or stay in his current deal and work out an extension with Phoenix, where he might take a pay cut after next year's giant check.
Adam Aaronson: Woj calls Chris Paul’s free agency a “fascinating question.” “This is a test for Robert Sarver… it is not inconceivable that Chris Paul opts out and enters the free agent market.”
Marc Stein: Yet I still see the Lakers as the most realistic threat to derailing the Suns' hopes of re-signing Paul, no matter how hard it is to pinpoint a pathway for them to acquire him because of the cap complexities. The reasoning: We know Paul would want to play again in Los Angeles, where his family still resides during the season, and also that he would want to play alongside James. The fact that Magic Johnson was tweeting about Paul-to-the-Lakers scenarios minutes after the Finals were over certainly won’t dissuade conspiracy theorists from believing that the Lakers are, at a minimum, exploring the options here.
“Now, no one expects Paul or Leonard to leave their teams if they opt out, but you never know,” said another West executive. “But there has been enough noise about Paul going to the Knicks. So, one just never knows. And, honestly, that makes this fun. Stressing, but fun.”
CP3’s performance spiked his value, prompting multiple teams to potentially consider making a splash for the veteran playmaker. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the New York Knicks, Miami Heat, and Dallas Mavericks could float around as options for Paul. Marks: "I don't want to burst the bubble for Lakers fans out there, but it's highly unlikely that Chris Paul is going to take a 40-million dollar discount to go sign with the Lakers."
Bobbby Marks: “I think if Phoenix elects to play hardball with Paul, we’re looking at teams like New York, his former agent Leon Rose is the president. Paul can potentially earn up to $43 million dollars to go to New York. You’re looking at teams like Dallas, you’re looking at potentially the Miami Heat, but I would still put Phoenix in the driver’s seat, even if Paul does enter free agency in early August here.”
According to sources, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers have been on the hunt for veteran point guard, and Paul is on the list. There have also been talks about Washington Wizards star Russell Westbrook being a potential candidate to move back home to Los Angeles in a sign-and-trade deal that could include free agent point guard Dennis Schroder, forward Kyle Kuzma and guard Talen Horton-Tucker, sources said.
For Paul to join forces with James for the first time in their careers, it would likely take a sign-and-trade with the Suns. The most the over-the-cap Lakers can offer Paul without a sign-and-trade is a $9.5 million taxpayer midlevel exception. The attraction of chasing his first championship with James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers could be an appealing option for Paul to ponder. Keep in mind that Paul, a former LA Clippers star, still lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two kids.
Paul is 36 right now and would trigger the ”over-38” rule on any deal that goes beyond 2023-24, so he’s either looking at a two-year extension or opting out and signing a three-year deal. If Paul opts out and signs a three-year deal with another team, the most he could make is $123 million. However, if he stays in Phoenix, he could sign for as much as $144 million over that time period.
According to former Nets executive and current ESPN salary-cap expert Bobby Marks, the Knicks’ extensive cap space would allow them to offer Paul a starting salary of $43 million (105 percent of his current wage) and a three-year deal for roughly $135 million. That’s a hell of a potential bid. Phoenix is the only team allowed to offer Paul a fourth year under cap rules, but then again, Suns owner Robert Sarver is not exactly known as an extravagant spender. “The Knicks would be the only team I’d see Paul taking a call from,” Marks said, “because of his relationship with Leon and the state of the team right now. It’s the only team I could see him visiting if he explores his options outside of Phoenix.”
According to former Nets executive and ESPN cap guru Bobby Marks, the Suns can offer Paul a four-year deal while the Knicks can’t go past three years because of an obscure “over-38’’ bylaw in the collective bargaining agreement. Marks predicts the Suns will net Paul with a three-year, $100 million contract if the veteran decides to opt out of the $44 million final season of his current deal. If Leon Rose’s Knicks attempt to match the offer, the Suns can add a fourth year. “I don’t think they will let him go,’’ Marks said of Phoenix.
NBA Central: Several agents for point guards in the 2021 free agent class fear New York as a possible landing spot for Chris Paul, per @Ian Begley According to Ian Begley, New York would only be an option for Paul if he and Phoenix didn’t reach an agreement. (Via sny.tv) pic.twitter.com/ogjQRLywcK
Chris Paul surprised many by telling associates recently he will opt out of his $44 million final year and seek another two-year deal at age 36. It’s hard to imagine the Suns not doing everything they can to bring him back on a two-year package — whether they win the title this season or not. Meanwhile, Cameron Payne, 26, showed plenty of playmaking potential as Paul’s stand-in and will be a free agent. It would be very Knicks-like to overpay a player who has not proven himself as a full-time starter.
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?
IF history is any indication, Thibodeau may prefer a veteran guard over a younger player. During the regular season, Kyle Lowry’s name came up internally as a potential target. Earlier in the season, Dennis Schroder’s name also came up. If the Knicks turn to a veteran, the other name to keep an eye on is Chris Paul.
Gerald Bourguet: Chris Paul on today's contract report and the potential distraction: "I haven't seen it, to tell you the truth. And with our team, we've got a singular focus. That stuff doesn't creep in our locker room."
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.
Brandon Rahbar: “I think it’s much more likely that Chris Paul plays next season in Oklahoma City than he doesn’t. I would guess Chris Paul plays next year in OKC.” -Royce Young on the Daily Thunder Podcast
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.
Adrian Wojnarowski: All-Star Chris Paul will sign a four-year, $160M max contract to stay with the Houston Rockets, league sources tell ESPN.
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.
Rachel Nichols: “Ain’t we beefing?” 😂 Here’s @CP3, @DMorey & Rockets CEO Tad Brown on reports there’s “tension” between them over Chris’s free agency.
Tim Bontemps: If there were doubts about the Rockets not being on the same page, a massive contingent is on hand here at the NBA Awards show — including pending free agents Trevor Ariza and Chris Paul. Positive sign toward both of them returning.
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.
Kelly Iko: San Antonio, Houston, and Boston were Chris Paul’s biggest choices heading into free agency, before ultimately choosing the #Rockets.
“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 Houston Rockets have emerged as increasingly serious threats in the chase for soon-to-be free agent Chris Paul, according to league sources.
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.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: Chris Paul and his agents met with Clippers officials today, discussed future. They'll talk again soon.
Ben Dubose: ESPN's @ChrisBHaynes is on @SportsCenter now. His top FA storyline? Chris Paul and the #Rockets. "Serious chance of luring Chris Paul away."
Brad Turner: Clippers guard Chris Paul has also informed the Clippers he is declining his option to become unrestricted free agent, per source
RJ Marquez: ESPN @Ramona Shelburne just said #Spurs having 'conversations' about possible Aldridge/Danny Green deals, SA/Chris Paul interest remains high pic.twitter.com/SJ8PZBo6n3
Ramona Shelburne: Question is, who would Spurs target in FA if they can clear space? CP3? Or Derrick Rose? They have strong interest in both.
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.
Paul Garcia: As mentioned yesterday, Green's contract would have to be moved to get into the max free agent ball park (CP3 range). twitter.com/JabariJYoung/s…
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."
Alex Kennedy: Executives and players around the NBA absolutely believe Chris Paul to the Spurs is a realistic possibility. Free agency starts in 19 days.
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.
The Spurs are reportedly exploring the feasibility of a massive acquisition of Paul, but the odds of the stars aligning for San Antonio reportedly aren't realistic according to Adrian Wojnarowski, who appeared on CBS Sports Radio on Sunday with Gary Parrish to discuss where Paul might land.
"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.
Jovan Buha: Doc Rivers was noncommittal when asked if in an ideal world bringing back Chris Paul and Blake Griffin would be the best path for LA: pic.twitter.com/dwpX72jP8q
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.
Ben Golliver: Clippers' Chris Paul says too early to think about opting out this summer. "We just lost 20 minutes ago."
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.”
September 24, 2021 | 10:17 am EDT Update
Keith Smith: Hearing from multiple sources that Boston’s recent camp invites, Ryan Arcidiacono and Garrison Mathews, have a real shot at making the Celtics final 15-man roster. One source said “It’s not a lock that the roster is done either. Brad is still doing some tinkering.”
Have you guys talked about the playoffs as a goal for this team going into the new year? What are the expectations for the Cavaliers in that locker room? Darius Garland: In our locker room, our expectations are to make the playoffs. The league is very balanced this year, so it’s going to be tough, but I think we’ve got the guys and the mindset to do it.
Where do you feel you rank among the rest of the NBA point guards right now? Darius Garland: In my opinion, I think I’m up there for sure. I think last year I really solidified myself, and I think this year I have a lot to learn. I’m coming back for more this year, especially having the target on my back of these executives that are saying I’ll be the breakout player of the year. A lot of people are going to be coming at me and trying to see what I can do. I’m just coming in and trying to be aggressive, trying to play the game the right way, and trying to get wins.
What are your long-term goals looking ahead? Darius Garland: Team goals are winning championships and getting as many wins as we can. I want to be an All-Star, be the best I can be, and be one of the best players to ever play this game. That’s always been my goal since I picked up a basketball. I always wanted to be the best version of me. I want to be known around the league. I want to have my kids’ friends talk about remembering Darius Garland. A lot of All-Star appearances would be amazing. Hall of Fame.
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September 24, 2021 | 10:00 am EDT Update
Shams Charania: Free agent guard Garrison Mathews is signing a one-year, non-guaranteed deal with the Boston Celtics, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Mathews spent his first two NBA seasons with Wizards and played 64 games (24 starts) in 2020-21.
Hart’s contract seems built to trade and we have another logjam of capable guards this year. Do you foresee any moves once the season starts to try and swap a guard or two for forward help? — Nicholas S. The Hart contract was a smart move by New Orleans to create maximum flexibility moving forward. They can use his deal as a way to extract assets from a team looking to open up cap space in the future, or they can get rid of his contract themselves to open up additional space. While I expect New Orleans to be active on the trade market, especially if they get off to a slow start, I’d look to the backcourt as an area they’re more likely to address than the forward position.
Either way, I do think there will be quality guards available later in the season. We see it every year at the trade deadline. I think New Orleans would prefer to see Graham exceed expectations and someone like Alexander-Walker, Murphy or Marshall have a breakout season to make the backcourt look better than it does going into the season. Even if that is true, the Pels will need to add a third star to this roster at some point down the road to give Zion and Ingram a real shot at competing in the West. The most realistic path for that is acquiring one of the next disgruntled guards to hit the trade market. Maybe it’ll happen as early as this season. You never know when the next upset superstar will pop up out of nowhere.