NBA AM: Clippers Set To Land Chris Paul
The New Orleans Hornets and Los Angeles Clippers are in serious trade discussions to complete a blockbuster deal which would send All-Star guard Chris Paul to the Clippers according to a report from the Los Angeles Times, which quoted sources close to the negotiation.
Although the rumored deal hasn’t been finalized the Clippers are expected to send former All-Star center Chris Kaman, point guard Eric Bledsoe, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ coveted unprotected first round pick in 2012 and second year forward Al-Farouq Aminu to the Hornets in exchange for Paul.
As part of the deal, Paul would agree to opt in to the final year of his contract for the 2012/13 season. Beyond that, the Clippers would hope that Bird Rights and a powerhouse roster would entice Chris to sign a new, long-term deal.
Last week the Hornets, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers agreed three-team deal which would have sent Luis Scola, Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and the New York Knicks’ first round pick in 2012 to the Hornets.
NBA commissioner David Stern vetoed the proposed trade with the Lakers and Rockets presumably to make acquiring younger talent and less long term contractual obligations the top priority for the league owned Hornets.
The Lakers have since shipped Odom to the Dallas Mavericks.
Potentially landing a perennial All-Star like Paul without having to include emerging shooting guard Eric Gordon in a package has to be considered a victory for the Clippers.
A core of Paul, Gordon and Blake Griffin would seemingly give the Clippers, who have only one playoff appearance since 1998, a rock solid nucleus to move into the league’s elite in the near future.
Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro didn’t discuss Paul directly at the team’s practice on Sunday but confirmed the franchise is indeed constantly evaluating their options to make the roster better.
“We’re always looking to improve our team and if there’s an opportunity there, we’re going to sit down and we’re going to listen,” Del Negro said. “But I’m pleased with the guys that we have here now. We’ll make our adjustments as we see fit. If there are opportunities, we’re going to take a look at them.”
For now it appears a Clippers-Hornets deal is imminent.
According to Sam Amick of SI.com a source close to Bledsoe seemed to indicate the second year guard was under the impression the deal was set and he was definitely headed to New Orleans.
The Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics also expressed interest in trading for Paul over the past week.
The deal must still be approved by Clippers owner Donald Sterling and the NBA and it will likely be reviewed on Monday.
David West Headed To Indiana: Last season the Indiana Pacers reached the playoffs for the first time since the 2006 campaign, losing to their division rival the Chicago Bulls in the first round.
Entering the offseason the Pacers were armed with $21 million in salary cap room and made no secret of their desire to add a major piece via free agency.
The Pacers may have found their man to help push the team up the pecking order in the Eastern Conference hierarchy.
According to the Indianapolis Star, two-time All-Star forward David West has agreed to a two-year $20 million dollar deal with the Pacers.
Even though West is still recovering from a torn left anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered at the tail end of last season, he entered the offseason as one of the league’s most coveted free agents.
West, an eight year veteran has career averages of 16.4 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting a stellar 84 percent clip from the free throw line.
The Pacers had been looking to strengthen their frontcourt by adding a top tier power forward this offseason to play alongside center Roy Hibbert who is coming off his best campaign as a professional.
With West in the fold the Pacers’ future appears bright in the ever improving Eastern Conference.
The Boston Celtics were involved in talks to acquire West from the Hornets in a sign and trade deal over the weekend, but could only offer around $8 million per season.
Officially, the Pacers won’t publicly comment until the 31 year old forward passes his physical but West’s agent Lance Young has already begun singing the praises of the Pacers.
“David looks at the Pacers as a good young team with a lot of potential,” Young told Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star. “He feels his experience and leadership will help a team like the Pacers. He was excited Jeff Foster re-signed with them. He feels like Indiana is the best spot for him and his family.”
Pacers starting point guard Darren Collison, who played with West in New Orleans, believes the veteran will fit in perfectly in Indiana.
“He gives us a guy who is very talented on the offensive end,” Collison said. “He knows how to space the court and he also makes sure the offense runs smoothly. Defensively, he makes sure everybody is where they’re supposed to be.”
Houston Turns Attention To Marc Gasol: The Houston Rockets, who tried to acquire Pau Gasol from the Lakers in the Chris Paul deal before it was vetoed by the league, have now reportedly turned their attention to his younger brother Marc Gasol.
According to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, the Rockets are preparing to offer Gasol the maximum they can given their position to the salary cap – a four-year $55 million contract.
Gasol is a restricted free agent and the Memphis Grizzlies can match any offer tendered for his services.
Rockets guard Kyle Lowry, who was a teammate of Gasol’s in Memphis, applauded team officials for attempting to land the talented big man despite the odds.
“I don’t know what the offer is, but you got to try,” Lowry said. “We need a center. I love Marc. He’s my guy.”
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