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Report: Clippers and Lou Williams nearing contract extension

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Clippers

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 20: Lou Williams #23 of the LA Clippers celebrates his last second dunk to end the third quarter against the Phoenix Suns during a 108-95 Clipper win at Staples Center on December 20, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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After scoring 50 points in a game earlier this season, Lou Williams – on an expiring contract and the trade block – gave a public impassioned plea to stay with the Clippers past the trade deadline.

Looks like he might get his wish.

Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

Extension discussions between guard Lou Williams and the LA Clippers have gathered significant momentum, and a new contract is within reach before the NBA trade deadline Thursday afternoon, league sources told ESPN.

Rival teams were increasingly resigned late Tuesday night that Williams, 31, was exiting the trade market and returning to the Clippers on a multiyear contract, league sources said.

The largest extension Williams could sign is four years, $41,965,056 (the same amount the Heat’s Josh Richardson and Raptors’ Norman Powell got). That salary seems about fair.

Williams is playing like a borderline All-Star, but he’s also 31, and few teams will have significant cap space next summer. The non-taxpayer mid-level exception projects to be worth about $36.8 million over four years. Would Williams really get more than that? This is his chance to get security now. The Clippers might not even have to offer the largest-allowable extension to get him to sign.

Where would a Williams extension leave DeAndre Jordan, another player the Clippers have discussed both extending or trading? There didn’t seem to be much momentum on either front, but a Williams extension could push L.A. toward extending Jordan. If the Clippers are already sacrificing flexibility for Williams, it becomes more logical to keep Jordan rather than make a half-hearted push toward cap space.

The Clippers (27-25, ninth in the West) are an enjoyable group. They play hard and, considering all their injuries, are overachieving. Doc Rivers deserves considerable credit, as does a Williams-led roster.

But is this who they want to be?

Especially after trading Blake Griffin, extending Williams (and maybe Jordan) would signify a commitment to an unspectacularly competitive present. I wasn’t certain owner Steve Ballmer would accept aiming lower than championship contention, but there are far worse places to be.

Extending Williams would almost certainly take him off the trade market. The extension in a sign-and-trade would be limited to two years, $15,067,500 – probably too small for Williams to accept. Not only is that salary low, it’d leave the door open for L.A. to trade him. He wants to stay.

The Clippers keeping Williams should help the Grizzlies, who are shopping Tyreke Evans. It seems the supply of scoring perimeter players on the trade market will soon shrink by one.