That’s the sound of the air going out of the Dallas Mavericks’ slim hopes of landing Chris Paul. The Los Angeles Clippers essentially locked up the perennial All-Star point guard by trading for the right to give former Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers a $7 million-per-season contract, as ESPNBoston's Jackie MacMullan reported.
It was always a long shot to pull CP3 away from L.A., where he has a talented supporting cast and can get about $30 million more guaranteed than the Mavs could offer.
The Mavs had to hope that Donald Sterling, who has three decades of experience as the worst owner in sports, would figure out a way to screw this up. Instead, other than essentially pointing the finger at Paul for firing an over-his-head head coach, Sterling stayed out of the way and handed his wallet over to the Clippers’ competent basketball decision-makers.
Rivers’ arrival in Los Angeles will give the Clippers a coach who is immensely respected by Paul, who reportedly lobbied hard when talks with the Celtics repeatedly hit speed bumps. Paul no longer would have to relocate to play for a coach of Rick Carlisle’s caliber.
It’s to be determined whether the Clippers and Celtics attempt to make the other deal they were discussing, a center swap that would ship athletic but raw DeAndre Jordan to Boston for fiery, future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett. The league office might reject that deal.
But the Clippers have made it clear to CP3 that they’ll be aggressive in giving him the best possible chance to compete for a championship. Give the Clippers’ front office a ton of credit for making Sterling a nonfactor.
This is a kick to the gut of the Mavs, who have been trying to get CP3 since he played for another notorious cheapskate owner (George Shinn) in New Orleans. The hope when the Mavs made their post-lockout decision to strip down the 2011 title team was that Paul would play out his contract with the Hornets and hit the open market last summer.
Once Paul was traded to the Clippers, the Mavs knew it’d be extremely difficult to convince him to move to Dallas. The odds have gone from slim to practically none at this point.
That leaves Dwight Howard as the lone available superstar. And the Mavs will have to pull off an upset to convince him to leave L.A. and pick Dallas over destinations such as Houston and Atlanta.
The Mavs hoped CP3 would be their lead recruiter next summer. Now, they might have to compete against his persuasive powers.
Imagine how Mark Cuban would feel if the Clippers pull off a sign-and-trade deal -- swapping Blake Griffin for Howard -- and Sterling, of all owners, pulls off the CP3/D12 pipe dream.