NBA PM: Chris Paul Committed to Clippers
When free agency opened on Sunday, Chris Paul was one of the first players to receive a contract offer. The Los Angeles Clippers contacted him almost immediately, offering a three-year, $60 million extension. While Paul turned down the offer, it doesn’t mean his days in Los Angeles are numbered. The 27-year-old will put off signing a new contract until next July, when he’s eligible to ink a five-year, $110-million extension with the Clippers.
While there has already been speculation that Paul will bolt to join fellow 2013 unrestricted free agent Dwight Howard on a new team such as the Atlanta Hawks or Houston Rockets, the superstar point guard seems committed to the Clippers. Even though he didn’t put pen to paper, he’s going about his business as if he expects to be in Los Angeles for years to come.
Over the past three days, Paul has been aggressively recruiting for the Clippers, contacting free agents and attempting to sell them on the situation. His pitch has been convincing, with talk about the promising future in Los Angeles and opportunity to compete for a championship. While most players have one foot out the door as free agency looms, Paul is working the phones and planning face-to-face meetings with potential teammates.
Not only has Paul played a huge role in the Clippers’ pursuit of free agents, he has been working with several of Los Angeles’ prospects in recent weeks. Paul has been training with Eric Bledsoe, Travis Leslie and Trey Tompkins in Los Angeles, helping the three young players expand their games. The point guard organized the offseason workouts, and other Clippers – such as DeAndre Jordan – will also be participating in the coming weeks. Paul has taken Bledsoe, Leslie and Thompkins under his wing, pushing them to improve all aspects of their game and encouraging them as they continue their development.
Off the court, Paul has also been bonding with his teammates. He has been spending a considerable amount of time hanging out with his teammates, in Los Angeles and around the country. Last weekend, he flew Leslie and Thompkins to Las Vegas, where he was hosting several parties.
Recruiting free agents, developing young talent and bonding off the court aren’t responsibilities that a departing superstar usually takes on if his days with a franchise are numbered. Sources close to the point guard say he loves Los Angeles and has been impressed with the Clippers organization. His experience has been positive and while not signing an extension allows him to keep his options open, the decision was more about securing the extra two years and $48 million available next offseason.
Paul is looking forward to the upcoming season and will worry about free agency next summer. For now, he’s focused on recruiting free agents and building a strong rapport with his teammates, which may indicate that Paul’s stint in Los Angeles isn’t coming to an end anytime soon.
Williams Hasn’t Made a Decision: All eyes are on Deron Williams. Will he sign with the Brooklyn Nets or the Dallas Mavericks? Both franchises are awaiting a decision from Williams, who hasn’t informed anyone what he’s going to do. The point guard met with executives from the Nets and Mavericks on Monday and while the meetings went well, there’s no timetable for a decision.
Sources close to Williams believe he’s waiting to see what other moves are made before making his final decision. Brooklyn has traded for Joe Johnson and Reggie Evans in the last 24 hours, and the Nets continue their pursuit of Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard. While the Magic and Nets negotiate, Williams will wait.
Meanwhile, free agent point guards around the NBA will continue to wait as well. Available floor generals such as Steve Nash, Jeremy Lin, Ramon Sessions, Goran Dragic and Aaron Brooks are in a holding pattern as Williams considers his options. Once Williams makes his decision, Nash will likely follow. After those two dominoes fall, expect many other point guards to begin signing contracts.
Ebanks Receiving Interest From Five Teams: Restricted free agent Devin Ebanks has drawn interest from a number of teams including the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers, according to sources close to the situation.
The Los Angeles Lakers extended a qualifying offer to Ebanks last week, which means they can match any offer the small forward receives. The Lakers have been in contact with their 2010 second-round pick, and are hoping to re-sign him. Once Ebanks signs an offer sheet on July 10, the Lakers will have three days to match.
Ebanks appeared in 24 games last season, averaging 4.0 points and 2.3 rebounds.
Kings, Pistons, Suns Like Williams: Unrestricted free agent Terrence Williams has received interest from the Sacramento Kings, Detroit Pistons and Phoenix Suns, according to sources close to the situation.
Williams averaged 8.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists last season with the Kings.