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NBA PM: Top Five Destinations for Chris Paul
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Top Five Destinations for Chris Paul
Chris Paul is arguably the best point guard in the NBA and one of the best free agents to hit the market in several years. However, Paul’s impending free agency hasn’t generated nearly as many headlines as other free agents to-be because the 28-year-old rarely discussed the topic during the season and most people assume Paul will re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Even though the Clippers seem to be in the driver’s seat with Paul as July 1 approaches, there will be plenty of interest in the veteran point guard. Teams will be lined up to meet with Paul once he becomes a free agent, just as they lined up to try to trade for him when he was available two years ago.
Here’s a look at five teams that could be in the mix for Paul:
L.A. Clippers – Two years ago, Paul wanted to play in a large market and he got his wish in Los Angeles. He also wants to be on a contending team, and even though the Clippers were eliminated earlier than expected during this year’s postseason, the team has talented pieces around Paul (Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford, Caron Butler) and trade assets to further improve the roster (DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe). Last summer, Paul helped L.A. recruit free agents, which suggests that he expects to be around the team he helped assemble. Still, Paul will likely weigh his options this summer, as all free agents do. The Clippers can offer Paul an extra year on his contract and $30 million more than any other team. However, as others have pointed out, players of Paul’s caliber usually exercise their early termination option and sign a new contract after four years anyway. Also, it’s considerably cheaper to live somewhere other than California. Other teams will certainly point these facts out as they try to persuade Paul to sign with them.
Dallas Mavericks – Last offseason, the Mavericks missed on free agent Deron Williams. He was on the verge of signing with Dallas, but decided to re-sign with the Brooklyn Nets after the team traded for Joe Johnson and Mark Cuban missed the Mavs’ meeting with Williams to film an episode of “Shark Tank.” Now, Dallas enters this offseason needing to sign a big-name free agent, otherwise their decision to let Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea among others walk after their championship season will look like a huge mistake. The Mavericks’ pitch to Paul will be that they have one of the best owners in sports, Dirk Nowitzki on the roster and no state income tax. The Mavs have made it clear that they want to upgrade their point guard position after starting Mike James and Darren Collison last year, and they’ll definitely be one of the teams pursuing Paul this summer.
Atlanta Hawks – The Hawks have only three players with guaranteed contracts for next season: Al Horford, Lou Williams and John Jenkins. Needless to say, Atlanta has the most flexibility of any team this offseason. Their dream scenario is to sign both Paul and Dwight Howard, but that’s obviously a long shot. Still, the Hawks must be mentioned when discussing any free agent in the class of 2013 because they have the money to throw around and they have general manager Danny Ferry running the show. Atlanta signing Paul and Howard may seem unlikely, but what about the Hawks signing Paul or Howard and one other player worth less than the max? That’s the Hawks’ back-up plan. Atlanta will certainly be in the mix for most free agents this summer.
Houston Rockets – The Rockets’ top free agency target will be Dwight Howard. However, putting Paul alongside James Harden in the backcourt wouldn’t be a bad back-up plan. Paul is an upgrade over Jeremy Lin and would give the Rockets some more star power. If Houston misses on Howard and Paul, expect them to pursue one of the power forwards in this free agent class such as David West, Paul Millsap or Josh Smith. Like the Dallas Mavericks, Houston’s pitch can include that there is no state income tax in Texas and offer a significantly cheaper cost of living. Throw in the fact that Paul could play with one of the best up-coming-players in the league in Harden and the Rockets have a solid free agency pitch this summer.
Denver Nuggets – Would the Nuggets be willing to give up some of their assets to do a sign-and-trade for Paul? If the Clippers realize they are going to lose Paul anyway, maybe they would be open to such a deal. Ever since Denver traded Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks, there has been plenty of talk about how they can’t win without a superstar on their roster. Their first-round exit against the Golden State Warriors this postseason didn’t do anything to dispel this notion. Ty Lawson is arguably the Nuggets’ best player, but Paul is one of the best players in the entire league. Put Paul around Denver’s weapons and in George Karl’s up-tempo system and he could do some great things. It’s hard to imagine Paul agreeing to leave sunny L.A. for Denver, which is why they’re a long shot and fifth on this list.
NBA All-Defensive Teams Announced
For the second year in a row, the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year wasn’t included on the All-Defensive First Team. Last year, Tyson Chandler was voted as the Defensive Player of the Year by media members, but wasn’t voted onto the All-Defensive First Team by coaches. That has happened again this year with Marc Gasol winning the league’s top defensive honor, but ending up on the All-Defensive Second Team.
This year’s NBA All-Defensive First Team is made up of Tony Allen of the Memphis Grizzlies (53 points), LeBron James of the Miami HEAT (52 points), Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers (37 points) and forward Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder (46 points) as well as Tyson Chandler of the New York Knicks and Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls, who each received 24 points.
The NBA All-Defensive Second Team is made up of Paul George of the Indiana Pacers (27 points), Avery Bradley of the Boston Celtics (25 points), Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs (20 points), Mike Conley of the Memphis Grizzlies (19 points) and Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies (12 points).
Other players receiving votes, with point totals: Andre Iguodala, Denver, 16; Larry Sanders, Milwaukee, 16; Thabo Sefolosha, Oklahoma City, 15; Luol Deng, Chicago, 11; Dwight Howard, L.A. Lakers, 9; Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers (6; Roy Hibbert, Indiana, 6; Kenneth Faried, Denver, 4; Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City, 4; Shane Battier, Miami, 2; Nicolas Batum, Portland, 2; Corey Brewer, Denver, 2; George Hill, Indiana, 2; Mike James, Dallas, 2; Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio, 2; Tony Parker, San Antonio, 2; Dwyane Wade, Miami, 2; Metta World Peace, L.A. Lakers, 2; Eric Bledsoe, L.A. Clippers, 1; Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City, 1; Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia, 1; Andrei Kirilenko, Minnesota, 1; Iman Shumpert, New York, 1; David West, Indiana, 1.
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