NBA PM: Chris Paul’s Time To Shine
There are 12 games on the NBA schedule tonight, with six teams playing in their season opener. However, the most watched game of the evening will most likely be one involving an 0-2 team and a 1-0 team, both based in Los Angeles.
Fans of the Los Angeles Lakers will be counting the seconds until tip-off, desperately hoping that their super-hyped team will get the 0-fer monkey off their back. Meanwhile, fans of the Los Angeles Clippers – and yes, that is a very different bunch of fans – will be counting the seconds in anticipation of their team handing the Lakers one more number in the loss column.
The Lakers are expected to be without Steve Nash, who was injured in the team’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night, meaning all eyes will be on Chris Paul as he looks to lead his Clippers to a 2-0 record on the young season. Blake Griffin may have gotten there first, but the Clippers are absolutely Paul’s team. When he’s healthy, they are a force to be reckoned with; when he’s not, they are a middle-of-the-pack team at best. Paul recorded 12 points, 12 assists and four steals in the Clippers’ season-opening win over the Memphis Grizzlies, but that was little more than a warm-up for this one.
Tonight, Paul needs to make a statement.
There’s a great deal of speculation floating around about where Paul might decide to play long-term. His contract is up at the end of this season and he’s sure to listen to offers and gauge interest from teams around the NBA. At the end of the day, however, he is the Clippers’ player to lose. He’s been acting like it, too, already talking to other players who might come over to the Clippers next summer. He’s talking like someone who understands that he’s in the right place, and just needs to recruit the best talent available to help him chase his championship dream.
Now, all he has to do is prove that the Clippers are a team that can have that kind of success.
It starts by making big statements when on the biggest stage, and there is no regular-season stage bigger than Staples Center, with his team taking on the NBA’s most-watched franchise in the Lakers. The Lakers have yet to realize their full potential, there’s no question about that, but they will take the court tonight with at least three All-Stars in their starting lineup and the Clippers need to put them down in convincing fashion.
That’s how Paul can make the Clippers a coveted destination for prospective free agents. It’s how the Clippers can start to land key pieces who will sign for the league minimum to be a part of something special. The Clippers have to start hanging convincing wins on the board against the league’s elite teams with Paul leading the way. When that starts to happen, players will come, and the Clippers will rise to the level of the NBA’s contenders.
The Lakers may be in a state of turmoil, but they are the Clippers’ cross-town rivals and they are the focal point for a league that is waiting to rejoice, either in their success or in their epic fail.
This has to be statement night for Paul and the Clippers.
Coexisting: Ramon Sessions and Kemba Walker
It seemed a bit strange when the Charlotte Bobcats signed Ramon Sessions over the offseason, as they already had a young and emerging point guard in Kemba Walker. The NBA has changed, though, and Walker and Sessions believe they can co-exist in the backcourt, whether they are on the court at the same time or platooning for each other. Walker talks about avoiding the NBA’s longest losing streak, what he’s already learned from Sessions, why he has high hopes for himself and his team this season and more in this exclusive interview:
Murphy Gets Another Go
There’s something to be said for being one of the good people in the NBA. It means you are more likely to get another chance to play when injury strikes and a team needs someone to fill in a gap here or there. The Dallas Mavericks are a team that takes character into consideration when they look at adding a player, and Murphy’s personality almost certainly played a role when the team elected to sign him to a one-year deal today.
In his prime, Murphy was just the kind of player Dallas could use to fill the void left by Dirk Nowitzki’s injury absence. With Nowitzki on the shelf for four to six weeks following knee surgery, the Mavericks are looking at their options. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban initially told HOOPSWORLD that the Mavs would not look at forward options, as he was confident that Elton Brand and Shawn Marion could handle the position while Nowitzki was working to get back. Today, however, the Mavericks waived center Eddy Curry, who played well for the San Antonio Spurs for the bulk of preseason and then looked good in two games with Dallas where he saw considerable action, to make room for Murphy.
It was an interesting move for Dallas, for sure, as Curry is a very serviceable center and the Mavs are already relying heavily on the injury-prone Chris Kaman. Curry could have served as a valuable back-up with the ability to start when the situation called for it. Murphy is coming off of the worst year of his career, and hasn’t had a really good season since 2009-10, when he averaged 14.6 points as a member of the Indiana Pacers.
That’s the Murphy the Mavericks are hoping to find, the one who shot 47 percent from the field and 38 percent from three. Murphy struggled to find his game in New Jersey, Boston and then in Los Angeles last season, but there is a chance that he, like so many of this year’s Mavericks, will find new motivation on a one-year deal on a team with stated championship aspirations.
As for Curry, sources close to the situation say a number of teams have already reached out to his camp, and he expects to be on another roster very shortly. It remains to be seen if the Mavericks wind up regretting letting him slip away.
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