NBA rumors: Warriors believe Chris Paul made 'dirty play' on Andre Iguodala

NBA rumors: Warriors believe Chris Paul made 'dirty play' on Andre Iguodala

Chris Paul has been getting under the Warriors' skin, that much is clear.

While the Rockets' star point guard was largely absent in the first two games of the Western Conference semifinal series with the two-time defending NBA champions, he was a different player when the series shifted back to Houston. Paul, who has always been known as an irritant, agitated the Dubs numerous times during the Rockets' wins in Games 3 and 4.

Paul's antics, for the most part, are harmless and done to get inside the heads of the Warriors, which he clearly did in Game 4. While battling for a rebound, Paul and Kevin Durant got tangled up and the Warriors star ended up slinging Paul to the floor and standing over him. Then, there was another incident with Durant where the two-time NBA Finals MVP appeared to intentionally elbow Paul in the face. 

But while Paul's extracurriculars with Durant are largely much ado about nothing, the Dubs reportedly do believe CP3 crossed a line late in the Rockets' Game 4 win on Monday. With 11 seconds left and James Harden at the free-throw line, Paul tried to snake around Warriors forward Andre Iguodala to grab a rebound off the miss and hit the forward's knee.

The 2015 NBA Finals MVP immediately grabbed at his knee after the play. 

While Iguodala is expected to be good to go for Wednesday night's Game 5 at Oracle Arena, a number of Warriors believe Paul's move on Iguodala was a "dirty play," Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports reported Tuesday. 

Paul's play certainly didn't appear to be on the up and up. However, the Rockets were in danger of giving away a Game 4 they absolutely had to have, so it's more than likely that Paul was just doing whatever he could to secure the rebound and not looking to batter one of the Warriors' most important players. 

[RELATED: Dubs' mood is good ahead of Game 5, but bodies aren't great]

Paul's reemergence and Mike D'Antoni's small-ball adjustment has breathed new life into a Rockets team that appeared dead after falling down 0-2 in the series. But, with the series now tied at two wins apiece, the Rockets and Warriors are back on track for the seven-game deathmatch everyone expected when the series began. 

The Warriors will have to do a better job of dealing with Paul's antics, P.J. Tucker's grit and the Rockets' new-found swagger Wednesday night in Game 5, or else things will get dire in a hurry. 

Warriors lost psychological edge, rest of NBA pouncing at title shot

Warriors lost psychological edge, rest of NBA pouncing at title shot

OAKLAND – Sixteen days shy of three years ago, the Warriors were charged with ruining the NBA. Upon adding Kevin Durant, you’d swear they committed a felony. They were littered with scorn.

The Warriors didn’t care. They’d lost the 2016 NBA Finals in most ignominious way, but they were holding the biggest NBA lottery jackpot since Miami won LeBron James in 2010.

In luring KD out of Oklahoma City and becoming prohibitive favorites for 2017 -- even posing with silver balloons spelling out “Super Villains” -- the Warriors had a message for the rest of the league: Try your slingshots against our heavy artillery.

"Just to be absolutely clear, I do not think that's ideal from the league standpoint," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said a few days after Durant signed with the Warriors.

Those were the days, eh? They are as gone as Anderson Varejao.

The rest of the NBA has been gaining a little bit at a time, eventually eliminating the awe factor that once allowed the Warriors to win merely by stepping onto the floor with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Durant and the minimum-salary center du jour.

Asked the other day if he thinks the rest of the NBA has gotten better over the past few seasons, Warriors CEO Joe Lacob didn’t hesitate.

“It did. I do believe that,” he said. “There are 29 other ownership groups and management teams and players that are all working to make themselves better. It gets harder every year.

“But that’s fun. That’s what the fun of it all is. It’s not meant to be. I don’t think we’re going to go out and win every year, although I’d like to and we will try to. But there are a lot of good teams, good players, good organizations and the chess pieces get moved around a little bit when you have the draft and free agency. And that’s all the exciting next few weeks.”

Lacob, who says he doesn’t do retrospection, knows what’s coming not only in 2019-20 -- when injured current Warriors Durant and Thompson will play little, if at all -- but beyond.

The Raptors, having dethroned the Warriors last week, will enter next season as favorite -- if they re-sign Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. If they lose Leonard, the Western Conference team that signs him -- Toronto is the only Eastern Conference team believed to have a chance -- will be, at worst, a title contender.

The Bucks are legitimate and will be better after dipping their toes into deep postseason waters. The 76ers are serious, as are the Celtics. Assuming none of the top four teams in the East undergoes dramatic retooling, they’ll all be threats.

And then there is the West, which is not as top-heavy as the East but surely is deeper. The young Nuggets will be better next April. The Trail Blazers are a quality forward away from being imposing. The Rockets will be back, even after the presumed remodel.

Care to imagine Kawhi and another star joining the Clippers, who went nose-to-nose with the Warriors in the playoffs?

The Lakers are committed to giving themselves more of a chance next season. After spending last summer renting veteran rejects and role players, surrounding LeBron James with young talent and cardboard cutouts, LA will add Anthony Davis. That’s threatening.

Most of the aforementioned opponents have experienced the joy of walloping the Warriors by 20 or more points over the past two seasons. They believed and they succeeded.

The past five years have taken a toll on the Warriors, particularly the 105 postseason games. They’ve averaged 103 games per season. That, combined with serious injuries to Durant and Thompson, is enough to embolden teams that once figured they had no reasonable chance.

[RELATED: Draymond denies report that he visited KD in New York]

When the Warriors take the court next season, they’ll do so with the wind in their faces instead of at their backs. The psychological edge is completely gone. They’re weakened, and everybody will believe they can get a piece.

When the Warriors last season often claimed to get “everybody’s best shot,” there was some truth to that. Not nearly as much as there will be next season.

NBA rumors: Kawhi Leonard focused on Clippers, not Lakers, in free agency

NBA rumors: Kawhi Leonard focused on Clippers, not Lakers, in free agency

Kawhi Leonard will forever be a legend in Canada. He led the Raptors to their first title when they took down the Warriors in six games, and nobody can ever take that away from him.

But he could soon leave The North for the West Coast. 

Leonard, who was born in Los Angeles and played collegiately at San Diego State, might have his eyes set on returning home to L.A. when he becomes a free agent in less than two weeks. His preference, however, sounds like "the other L.A." team, not the one that just traded for Anthony Davis. 

"The reality is, Kawhi Leonard's focused on Los Angeles but it's the Clippers, not the Lakers," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said Tuesday morning on "Get Up." 

Wojnarowski points out that the Lakers will not have the money to sign the superstar in free agency. After the Lakers acquired Davis from the Pelicans, there was speculation they would still have between $32 and $27 million left in salary cap space to sign a marquee player. But due to the timing of the trade and Davis' 15 percent trade kicker, the Lakers' cap space will likely be around $23 million. 

There's another point he makes regarding Leonard's preference of the Clippers over the Lakers, and it all starts with LeBron James. 

"The idea of him being a third wheel on a team that's trying to create a super-team, that has not been Kawhi's M.O. The Clippers are poised to be able to lure him from Toronto. This will be a Raptors-Clippers fight down to the end. ... It's not even certain he'd take a meeting with the Lakers right now," Wojnarowski said. 

This comes on the heels of The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor reporting Sunday that league sources have told him the Lakers will pursue Leonard

[RELATED: Danny Green reveals what Dubs said after Klay's injury]

It makes sense that Leonard will chose the Clippers over the Lakers if he were to leave Toronto, despite the addition of Davis with LeBron. Kawhi just led a team to a championship that was built more on depth than stars, which is exactly how the Clippers are currently constructed. 

The Clippers pushed the Warriors to six games in the first round of the playoffs this year. Adding Leonard to the squad while the Warriors will be without injured stars in Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson could bring another banner to the Staples Center, just not for the Lakers.