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Tag:Caron Butler
Posted on: February 23, 2012 5:15 pm
 

Chris Paul says he's decided on option

Chris Paul says he's already decided to opt-in to 2012-2013 with the Clippers. (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore 

When Chris Paul was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, it was done under the condition that Paul would exercise his option for 2012-2013 to give the Clippers at least two years to build a team around him. Still, there was still a feeling from skeptics that this could all go wrong. That since it was Paul's decision, if things didn't work with the Clippers, he could opt-out and test restricted free agency. Because that was part of the back-room deal in place, there has been little discussion of his option for next season. 

But in an interview with Jim Rome this week, Paul was asked if he'd decided to exercise that option and stay with the Clippers through next summer instead of becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer and seeing all his options. Paul said that the decision has already been made, and outlines why.

 


So Paul says the decision is made. He could back out of it, but you have to doubt that's going to happen with the Clippers in third place in the West, leading their division with signature wins over the Lakers and Heat. The Clippers aren't perfect, but in a short time they surrounded Paul with a quality cast of veterans (the kind stars like Paul want to play with), alongside Blake Griffin, and have changed a lot of the culture. 

Based off of how Paul talks about the quality guys they brought into the locker room, and the result so far, don't you have to consider Clippers Neil Oshey the Executive of the Year? He didn't just bring in player after player to fit in with a Chris Paul team, then pulled off the trade, but he managed to do so while building a locker room that Paul wants to be part of.

Even if things don't finish well for Paul in L.A. this year, they have a whole other year to build a championship team around the best pure point guard in the league and the most powerful power forward under 25. Everything's good news this year for Clippers fans.

When's the last time you could say that?

("ROME with Jim Rome" debuts on CBS Sports Network April 3rd.  You can follow him on Twitter @JimRome.)
Posted on: January 26, 2012 2:12 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 2:13 pm
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Posted on: January 15, 2012 2:40 am
 

Are the Clippers more complete than the Lakers?



Clippers 102 Lakers 94: Recap | GameTracker

It was impossible watching the Clippers' win over the Lakers Saturday night at Staples who the best player on the floor was. Kobe Bryant dazzled. He hit impossible shot after imposible shot, including a fading three-pointer with a defender taking up 85 percent of his vision and a turnaround mid-range jumper with similar contest. He finished with 42 points on a decently efficienty 14 of 28 shooting, and only had two turnovers. 

And yet Chris Paul was the best player on the floor Saturday night, even with him having left before the game was over thanks to a strained hamstring late in the fourth quarter after essentially icing the game with another jumper. He finished with 31 points, 6 assists, and one turnover. But it wasn't the assists or turnovers or efficiency that made Paul the best Saturday night, nor was it the win he walked out with. It was his ability to work within the flow of an offense, to keep his teammates involved while also taking advantage of scoring opportunities with his array of skills. Paul hit some tough shots just as Bryant did, but the timing, causation, and execution were completely different. 

Bryant has been on a ridicuous scoring streak, hitting the 40 mark four times in a row. The easy answer is that the Black Mamba is doing enough, he simply isn't getting help. But the only real differences between this team and last year's title contender is the absence of Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown. But the subtle differences have a huge impact, and the same problem that has bugged L.A. for years is once again popping up. 

When the Lakers' offense stalls out to any degree, that's when Bryant's hero mode kicks in. And right now he's John McClaine. He's launching cars up into the air at helicopters and bringing down hover jets with trucks while taking out hordes of terrorists. But the problem is that in doing these amazing feats, he essentially removes any possibility of the Lakers' whole becoming greater than the sum of their parts. There is no flow, there is no rhythm. There is simply waiting for Bryant to score in order to try and rebound the miss or get back on defense if he hits. The result means that the Lakers' weak parts look weaker while Bryant looks stronger in comparison. 

This isn't entirely about Bryant. This is about Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol's assertiveness, and the shot making of other players. But those elements have to be allowed to thrive and they can't with Bryant testing the limits of what is possible just because he thinks it's hot. And it's not about how many field goals Bryant takes. He can shoot 50 times, if the shot is a result of the Lakers' offense functioning at the level it can and needs to. Instead, however, Bryant is taking perimeter shots, pull-up, contested, with 18 seconds or more on the clock. He's throwing up baseline runner J's over double teams. And he's hitting! But everyone knows that isn't sustainable. Bryant coul be scoring 40 points a night on 15 shots plus fouls, that's how good he is. But instead he operates on this plane. 

But maybe the bigger issue is the lack of a real playmaker, like Paul, on the Lakers. For years, that role has been filled by the system. The triangle under Phil Jackson naturally gave the stars on the Lakers the chance to distribute, create, and produce. Now under Mike Brown, the Lakers are struggling for an offensive identity. 

The Clippers are the opposite at this point. The may be flawed conceptually, but they are making it work with the pieces they have. The Lakers elected to challenge Paul to score Saturday night, taking away his weapons. He responded by showing them what an efficient shooter he is and burning down their Nets with an array of mid-range jumpers and leaners. The Lakers tried everything, but when they threw doubles and traps at Paul, his teammates had already been involved and were ready to produce. Chauncey Billups with 19, Caron Butler with 13 and even Randy Foye (who was not good overall) with 13. The Clippers have a complete team top to bottom, and that's a huge reason for their wins over Portland, Miami, and the Lakers. They may not be as good, but they are a more complete team. 

The Lakers were hurt by rebounds. They were hurt by inexperience. They were hurt by a slow start for Bryant. And they were definitely hurt by the brutal nature of their schedule. But if they want to get back to being a title contender, they have to stop with the sideshow stuff. Watching Kobe Bryant do his damage is amazingly fun to watch, but it's no longer 2006. The only way the Lakers are going forward is if they do it together. If they want a blueprint, all they have to do is take a good long look at little brother. 

 
Posted on: January 13, 2012 7:17 pm
Edited on: January 14, 2012 2:19 am
 

3-on-2 Fast Break: Clippers vs. Lakers



3-on-2 Fast Break is a weekly feature here on Eye on Basketball where our intrepid bloggers tackle two questions, comparing two elements. This week, we focus on Saturday night's showdown at Staples between the Los Angeles Cippers and Los Angeles Lakers. Follow Eye on Basketball on Twitter and like us on Facebook

1. Let's keep it simple. Which of these two teams wins on Saturday night and why?  

Royce Young: Lakers. The Fighting Kobes are in a really good rhythm right now. Kobe is playing great, Andrew Bynum is looking dominant and all the pieces are fitting together. The Clippers kind of put all their eggs into the basket of beating the Heat and while I'm sure they'll be up for the Lakers, they've got to get past that overtime win first. And don't think the Lakers have forgotten everyone getting all excited about the Clips sweeping the two exhibition games at Staples in early December. People were talking about the changing of the guard in L.A., but those games didn't count. This one does. 

Ben Golliver: The Lakers have some serious positive momentum going thanks to a four-game winning streak which could become five if they top the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night. That the Clippers get two rest days heading into this one while the Lakers are stuck with the back-to-back gives Lob City an edge, but that probably cancels out the revenge factor that the Lakers are feeling after getting wiped up in two highlight-filled preseason games. Chauncey Billups has hit double figures and shot at least 6 free throws in four consecutive games for the Clippers; they will need his production if they are to keep pace with Kobe Bryant and company. Chris Paul finally had his signature game with the Clippers, scoring 27 points and making 11 assists in a Wednesday win over Miami and he gave the Lakers fits in last year's playoffs. I see him doing it again on Saturday to give the Clippers the win.

Matt Moore: The matchups here are enough to make your head spin. All-Star, phenomenal, once-in-a-lifetime guards? Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul. Behemoth young centers with size, strength and defensive ability? Andrew Bynum and DeAndre Jordan. Crafty veterans on the wings? Ron Artest, Derek Fisher, Steve Blake and Matt Barnes against Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, and Mo Williams. Power forwards with huge scoring ability who are almost unguardable? Pau Gasol and Blake Griffin. It's a tight set of matchups. I like the Clippers in this one. We saw what Paul was able to do against the Lakers in the playoffs last year, and they haven't upgraded a defender to guard him yet. On the other end, Pau Gasol doesn't like it when things get physical and the Clippers are in-you-face as they come. Bryant can swing this as he can any game, but I like Lob City to open up and outrun the older Lakers. 

2. We know Kobe's going to score, Griffin's going to dunk, CP3 is going to dish, and Pau is going to do Pau things. But what's the big unknown in this game that will end up deciding it?  

Royce Young: Points in the paint. Who gets the most easy baskets? Both teams are pretty solid defensively and both teams have players that can fill it up. But jumpshots only carry teams so far, especially late in games. The Lakers have Bynum and Gasol who are paint monsters, while Griffin gets a lot of his easy in transition. Execution will be tough because you know this game will be physical. It's going to come down to the little things like free throws, turnovers and again, easy baskets in the paint. Both teams can defend it well, but who is going to break down the other defense enough to score simple points. 

Ben Golliver: 
The answer to the big unknown question is always Andrew Bynum. He poured in his career-high 42 points against DeAndre Jordan back in 2009 and he's shown spurts of serious offensive productivity in this young season. Given that the game is on the second end of a back-to-back there's no guarantee that Bynum can fully exploit what is an exceedingly difficult match-up for Jordan. The only person who can keep Bynum off the offensive glass in this one is himself. The Clippers are second-to-worst in rebound rate on the young season and Jordan can be bullied with Bynum's width and strength. 

Matt Moore:  
Turnovers. The Lakers have turned the ball over a stunning amount this season up until the past few games, also notably the best games of Bryant's season. The Lakers are last in turnover percentage differential, while the Clippers are top-four in that same category. The Clippers also rank 3rd in transition offense according to Synergy Sports. The Lakers are ninth in transition defense. If the Clippers can get out and run, that's going to put more wear and tear on an older and banged up Lakers team. But if the Lakers get to grind it out, expect the Lakers' superior experience to win the day.
Posted on: January 12, 2012 2:34 am
 

Theory and Proof: Clips find their identity on D



By Matt Moore


Los Angeles 95 Miami 89

Theory: The Clippers needed some help, but found their defensive identity against the Heat to get their biggest win of the season. 

Proof: Moving past the prolific failure of the Miami Heat, particularly at the free throw line, the Clippers did win a fairly significant ball game Wednesday in their own right, an ugly affair against a tough defensive team, and they did it with defense.

For weeks the Clippers have been chided for porous defense. But Wednesday they took the most athletic team and attacked them at the rim. They turned the Heat over, they challenged jumpers, they helped and communicated, and DeAndre Jordan blocked everything in sight.

The Heat entered Wednesday night with a 107 offensive efficiency mark (points per 100 possessions). The Clippers held them to just an 89.9 mark. That's worse than the Wizards' mark for the season. L.A. brought a lot of help, but it was also lead by the same players who they were criticized for acquiring. Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler did tandem work on LeBron ames and Dwyane Wade, and Chris Paul was his usual ball-hawk self.

Then there was DeAndre Jordan.

That's why you overpay for a young center with his abilities. Eleven rebounds, six blocks (!) and a monstrous slam to finish the game and shut the door on the Heat. Jordan was everywhere, swallowing up shots and spitting them back out. Jordan was a monster and a huge reason why the Clippers could help and recover as much as they needed to against the Heat's athleticism.

The Clippers are still a work in progress. But there were enough positive signs to show that this team is not as far off as has been suggested recently. There are still things to improve on, though.

Blake Griffin is still learning to adapt to the new pressure and physicality defenses are now applying. Griffin finished with 20 and 12, but needed 23 shots to get to those 20 points. He was frustrated by the Heat's combined attacks and shook by their toughness inside on his drives. Too often he settled.

The bench is still very weak, and in need of a consistent scorer outside of Mo Williams.

But Chris Paul ties it together.

Maybe the defense won't play like this consistently enough to even warrant home court in the first round. But the pieces are there, and when they come together for the Clippers, with Paul drawing the strings and Jordan putting a big metal box over it, the Clippers have something as special as what they were hyped to be. It was a mentally exhausting, grinding battle Wednesday night, and at the end, the Clippers walked out with the signature win of their season so far.
Posted on: December 14, 2011 7:53 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:41 pm
 

Grade The Trade: Clippers get their man, CP3

By Matt Moore

You only get a shot at Chris Paul once. That's it. This opportunity will not come again, and honestly, a chance at a player of his caliber only comes along once every generation. But the trade -- as reported by Ken Berger of CBSSports.com -- that the Clippers pulled sending Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman, and a first-round pick to New Orleans for the best pure point guard in the league isn't about that. It's about what fits best with the future of the franchise. And the future of the franchise is Blake Griffin.

Sure, you want shooters for the kickout, someone to take the pressure off Griffin. But you can get those. Shooters abound. What don't abound are top level point guards who understand the pick-and-roll as well as any guard in the league. That's CP3. That's Chris Paul. Griffin will benefit more from Paul than he will from Gordon, and that was the kicker in this deal. While the haul for the Hornets is not only acceptable, but worlds better than the platter proposed in the original rejected trade, the gain for the Clippers is too great. They're in a position to win now, win in the future, win for the next decade.

CP3 traded to the Clippers

You have to keep Blake Griffin at all costs. The risk is too great that the team won't develop with Griffin, will stall out, and then watch as he departs, potentially to their neighbor at Staples. But this? This is a realignment. The Clippers have a shot, albeit a slim one, at changing the status quo that the Clippers are losers and the Lakers are winners. The Lakers didn't get Chris Paul. The Clippers did.

There's talk that Chris Paul may leave in two years (it's widely expected that part of the agreement involves Paul opting in for the 2012-2013 season and becoming a free agent in the summer of 2013 vs. next summer). That the Clippers could be left with nothing.

But you take that risk. You gamble that CP3-Billups (that move looks a lot better)-Caron Butler-Griffin-DeAndre Jordan is enough to compete, with an extra year to build around them, now as a top free agent position. You risk all of that because if you can't win enough with that group to convince Paul and Griffin to stay together, nothing will. No more aiming for the playoffs, for aiming for respectability, for trying to just be decent.

The Clippers have shot for the moon. The worst case scenario is the most exciting two years in the history of the Los Angeles Clippers. Greatness isn't made by being conservative; fortune favors the bold.

The Clippers made the bold move, and now they have Chris Paul.

Look up, there go the Clips.

Grade: A+



Posted on: December 13, 2011 9:51 am
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Posted on: December 8, 2011 3:51 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 5:10 pm
 

Clippers sign Caron Butler for 3 years, $24M

By Matt Moore  

Caron Butler (Getty Images)Two days ago the Clippers were considered a potential front-runner in the race for Chris Paul. Thursday, they completed the most Clipper-esque move they could make. David Aldridge of NBA.com reports that the Clippers have signed the 31-year-old, coming-off-knee-surgery Caron Butler to a three-year, $24 million deal. 

Yup, still the Clippers.

Butler has toned down some of his worst temperments in recent years. He's a little easier on the trigger finger, works hard in a defensive scheme, has veteran experience and was a difference maker on the Mavs last season before he went down with knee surgery. Unfortunately, he's 31, and he went down with knee surgery.

The offers on the table for Butler as of Wednesday included the $5 million Mid-Level Exception from either the Spurs or Bulls, to be a competent role player on a championship contender, or $7 million to go to either the Nets or Clippers.

The Clippers went one million dollars above that to make sure they got Butler. Alongside Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin, Butler will be one of the veteran linchpins for a team that needed to improve on both ends of the floor. 

In unrelated news, the NBA Board of Governors was expected to vote to approve the new CBA deal which they agreed to with the NBPA (also voting Thursday) after a five-month lockout in an effort by owners to control wasteful spending. 

Wocka wocka wocka.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com