NBA AM: Is Chris Paul Upset With Clippers?
VIDEO OF THE DAY - Allen Crabbe
2013 NBA Draft prospect Allen Crabbe, a former California guard, discusses his strengths and how he'll help a NBA team in today's video of the day.Watch More Video Here
Los Angeles Clippers All-Star Chris Paul is arguably the best point guard in the game today and will enter the summer as an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. Paul will rank at the top of this summer’s free agent class, alongside Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard, and his long term future has been a topic of debate for the past two years.
Under the current collective bargaining agreement, the Clippers can offer Paul a five-year $107 million deal. No other team can offer more than four-years and $79 million. So in essence, if Paul opts to walk in free agency he would be leaving close to $28 million in guaranteed money on the table.
Now, here’s where there is a big misconception.
Leaving $28 million on the table should Paul elect to sign elsewhere, is not the same thing as not being able to recoup those earnings in the future.
There’s a difference.
Let’s say Paul did sign a four-year deal and bolted from the Clippers. The guard would be 32 years old the next time he was up for free agency. There are a lot of guys in the league still getting it done at 32 at a high level. Assuming Paul continued to rack up All-Star appearances, playoff trips and enhancing his legacy he would still be in a solid position to lock up a lucrative deal and recoup the money he would have left on the table.
The prospect of guaranteed money only comes into play if this is a player’s last deal of their career, the threat of a career changing injury or their game rapidly deteriorates impacting their market value. Those are the reasons why taking the most guaranteed money upfront is a much more discussed avenue to take because the future is an uncontrollable variable (i.e. career trajectories of Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, Michael Redd, etc.).
But until Paul signs his name on the dotted line, speculation about his future in Los Angeles will run rampant. The latest report from ESPN analyst Chris Broussard quotes a source implying the All-Star guard is upset with the franchise for being perceived as the reason why the team chose to move on from head coach Vinny Del Negro.
“He’s angry right now and his anger is directed toward the Clippers organization,” the source told Broussard. “Chris is a man of principle and if he feels like you’ve gone against his principles, it will affect how he feels about you. He’s very agitated that his name has been put out there as the reason for Vinny’s firing. He had nothing to do with it.”
Now this isn’t to downplay Broussard’s report, which could be rooted in a sea of truthfulness, but the world we live in is not a vacuum. For instance, it is possible for Paul to be mad at the coach, a teammate, the strength and conditioning coach and the head of marketing but still be onboard with the organization.
Think about your own situation in the work world.
You can be upset with your direct manager, a co-worker and the human resources department but love the organization signing your paychecks. It is a moving world and heads will be bumped. Being around the locker room you will see guys come to the “office” upset all the time about an internal issue, but it doesn’t mean the player is ready to bolt the organization. Things get worked out all the time and rarely ever hit the media wire.
On another note, Paul has told current players close to HOOSPWORLD that barring something major developing he will in all likelihood be re-signing with the Clippers this summer and that he is completely onboard with their system.
This isn’t to say teams with cap space such as Atlanta, Dallas and Houston have a zero percent shot at prying him away from Los Angeles, but it does show those teams will need to pull off a strong recruiting job to make it a reality.
For the Clippers part, the organization has remained consistent in its messaging that Paul is at the top of their priority list this offseason.
“The No. 1 priority for us right now has to be re-signing our star player, Chris Paul,” Clippers vice president of basketball operations Gary Sacks told reporters in early May, according to ESPN.com. “That’s our goal, that’s what we want to do. We want to put ourselves in a position to do that. We feel this organization is in a position to move forward with that goal in mind. It’s always difficult, it’s never easy, but we feel confident we can be successful.”
The Clippers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Memphis Grizzlies after posting 56 regular season wins, the most in franchise history.
Rockets Looking To Clear Space, May Move Thomas Robinson
The Houston Rockets will be a team to watch this summer. The franchise is coming off a promising campaign and has a budding star in shooting guard James Harden. All reports out of Houston is that the franchise won’t be satisfied with resting on their laurels moving forward, they want to join the ranks of the league’s elite.
Since their season ended the club has been linked to unrestricted free agent to be center Dwight Howard who is rumored to be unsure of his future with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Rockets have $39.3 million in guaranteed salary on the books for the 2014 season, so the club is positioned to be a free agent player.
The latest report from Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski states the Rockets are now looking at trading forward Thomas Robinson, the fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft, to create an additional $3.5 million in cap room to pursue Howard this summer.
The club acquired Robinson at the trade deadline this season from the Sacramento Kings.
Kings players told HOOPSWORLD after the deal in February that Robinson had become increasingly frustrated with his role on the team.
If the Rockets are successful in dealing Robinson, the club would have created enough cap room to potentially lure a MAX contract worthy player to town.
Coming out of the draft Robinson believed he was worthy of the No. 1 overall pick, but has struggled to find his rhythm since entering the league averaging 4.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game on just 43 percent shooting as a rookie.
The Rockets have more than five players with non-guaranteed deals for next season including Aaron Brooks, Carlos Delfino, Chandler Parsons, Greg Smith and Patrick Beverley.
NBA Draft Combine 2013 Coverage
The HOOPSWORLD team had the 2013 Draft Combine covered from start to finish, live on the ground.
Catch all of the video interviews from yesterday’s collegiate stars and this year’s NBA rookie class.
You can find HOOPSWORLD’s 2013 draft combine coverage here.
HOOPSWORLD NBA Draft Prospect Profiles
The NBA Draft is rapidly approaching. Get up to date information on the top prospects here.