Never mind that Paul is sidelined for the next five to seven weeks with a thumb injury, or that Blake Griffin just missed 18 games because of a knee problem, or that they’ve gone just 16-15 since starting the season 14-2.
Paul, the 31-year-old point guard who made an ironic appearance at the NBA’s Total Health Forum on Thursday, remains bullish on the big picture.
“That ain’t gone nowhere,” Paul told USA TODAY Sports about the meaningful optimism he shared during the Clippers’ hot start. “It’s crazy. For me, if we win all those games (during this past backslide), it doesn’t matter. All that matters is ‘Can you beat a team four out of seven times (in the playoffs)?’ That’s how my mind works. You beat a team on a Monday night in January, coming off a back to back, and everybody will be like, ‘Oh, this means that they can play (at the highest level)…’ “We’ll be all right. I’m big picture (person), you know what I mean? I think we’ll be fine. I’m sure we’ll be fine.”
Between LeBron James’ angst about the Cleveland Cavaliers’ roster, the Anthony/Phil Jackson saga in New York that looks likely to lead to his Knicks exit, and the fact that Dwayne Wade’s Chicago Bulls are mired in mediocrity, Paul is the only one among the infamous group of best friends who seems content at work these days.
Yet make no mistake, both he and Anthony would be a whole lot happier if this Clippers deal eventually goes down.
According to a person with knowledge of the situation, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, the Clippers have a strong interest in adding Anthony so long as they don’t have to give up one of their Big Three of Paul, Griffin or DeAndre Jordan. Considering they have made this clear to the Knicks, the illuminating part is that the conversation didn’t die right there.
With the Knicks known to think very favorably of 24-year-old Clippers guard Austin Rivers (career-high 11.9 points per game this season), and with various combinations of trade scenarios known to include other players like veteran shooting guard J.J. Redick (who will be a free agent this summer) and super sixth man Jamal Crawford (who signed a three-year, $42 million deal last summer), it seems clear that the Knicks’ interest level in parting ways with Anthony is growing by the day.
Anthony, who is owed $26.2 million next season and can opt out of his deal two summers from now, has a no-trade clause and is known to have a very short list of teams for which he would be willing to waive it.
Yet from Anthony to James, Wade and Paul, there is a common thread that is clearly driving their words and actions at the moment. This is about Father Time, with all of them aware that he waits for no man and all of them hell-bent on winning as much as possible before he finally catches up and ends their careers.
On Wednesday night, when Paul and James had one of those long phone conversations in which they connect like few others can, they shared a version of that truth.
“He’s not (losing his mind),” Paul said of James, who has publicly pressured the Cavs to add a playmaker on several occasions while highlighting missed opportunities from their past. “I know he’s not. I talked to him for a long time last night. He’s not losing (his mind). It’s a long season.
“He’s just trying to win, too, you know what I mean? It’s all in trying to win. Think about it. People, think in the big picture – four out of seven. Do you have enough power to beat who you need to beat four out of seven times?”
|(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)|
Clippers, Knicks Talk Trade For Carmelo That Wouldn’t Blow Up LA’s ‘Big 3’
The Los Angeles Clippers are reportedly discussing a potential trade for the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony that would not involve any of the team’s superstar core of Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan.
A source cited by the New York Daily News says the Knicks would consider trading Anthony, who would reportedly waive his no-trade clause if the right deal were to come along.
Any Clippers deal would have to free up about $27 million in salary, and would reportedly include a combination of J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford, or Austin Rivers.
Knicks president Phil Jackson is hoping to land a deal – and a destination – that Anthony would agree to prior to the NBA trade deadline next month, according to Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski.
Anthony, who has a home in L.A., is a close friend of Paul’s and would complete a formidable Clippers’ “Big Four” to rival the Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson.