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Report: Celtics targeting Pierce; Clippers aiming for cap wiggle room

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Report: Celtics targeting Pierce; Clippers aiming for cap wiggle room

Perhaps the Wizards and Clippers aren't just battling each other for Paul Pierce next season after all.

Perhaps Pierce won't need to leave money on the table if he actually signs with Los Angeles.

Let's start with the first mention. Following the report that Kevin Love will become a free agent on July 1 after opting out of his contract, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski connected some dots between the Cavaliers forward and one of his expected pursuers. The interesting part for Washington and Los Angeles involves one of the other names mentioned.

Pierce, a Los Angeles native who spent the first 15 seasons of his career with the Celtics, has not officially announced whether he intends on opting into his $5.5 million contract with the Wizards for next season. However, numerous reports suggest the future Hall of Famer will choose free agency, though Washington remains in play.

Not dismissing the lure of the almighty dollar, but only teams with a sincere shot at an NBA title have a shot at landing Pierce. 

On the surface, Boston doesn't meet that criteria. Though Coach Brad Stevens directed a surprising a playoff berth as the seventh seed, the current roster lacks true headliners. There's a debate about whether Love can be the best player for a title team, but adding him with another big man in Lopez and big game player in Pierce certainly moves them closer in the wide-open Eastern Conference.

All of this Pierce-Boston buzz hinges on whether Love leaves Cleveland. The Pierce-Clippers noise remains loud regardless.

Pierce nearly landed with the Clippers last season. He played under Clippers coach and general manager Doc Rivers with the Celtics. With Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, the Clippers are one of the heavy favorites to win the loaded West despite their past failures. However, Los Angeles doesn't currently have enough available salary cap space to pay Pierce the $5.5 million he would make in Washington. Key word there might be currently.

Pierce must inform the Wizards of his plans before July 1. At least that much we know for sure.

 

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Chris Paul is reportedly recruiting LeBron James to the Rockets, which would change East dramatically

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Chris Paul is reportedly recruiting LeBron James to the Rockets, which would change East dramatically

Next to actually signing LeBron James himself, there is another scenario involving the NBA's best player that should sound great to Eastern Conference teams. That is if James decides to leave the conference altogether for a team in the West, and it sounds like Chris Paul is trying to make that dream come true.

Paul, according to ESPN, is actively recruiting James to join the Houston Rockets. The Rockets won an NBA-best 65 games in the 2017-18 season and fell one win short of reaching the NBA Finals.

Here is what Adrian Wojnarowski said as transcribed by Pro Basketball Talk:

Chris is going to return there. And listen, right now, Chris Paul’s focus isn’t so much on his own free agency. He’s trying to recruit LeBron James to Houston, and somebody close to him said to me he is as focused on recruiting LeBron as anything he’s done in this league. He wants to find a way.

There's no doubt Houston would give James an opportunity to contend and maybe even win championships. They were up 3-2 on the Warriors in the conference finals before losing the final two games. Paul missed the last two games of the series due to injury.

If the Rockets were that close without James, adding him would likely push them over the hump. Even with the Warriors being as good as they are, the Rockets would be a super team on a level rarely seen in NBA history. James and Rockets guard James Harden are the two frontrunners for MVP. Then there's Paul, a perennial All-NBA guard who is a surefire Hall of Famer once his playing days are over.

If James went West, that would break the streak of his teams winning the Eastern Conference playoff bracket eight years in a row. The conference would be more wide open than it has been in nearly a decade, giving teams like the Sixers, Celtics, Raptors, Wizards and others a better shot at reaching the Finals.

One alternative is James leaving Cleveland to form another titan within the East. That could happen if he goes to Philly or Boston or somewhere else with some pieces already in place. It's conceivable that James stays in the East and does so with a team that is much better than the Cavs squad he led to the Finals this past season.

On the face of it, James would probably be smart to not go to Houston. As good as the Rockets are and as stacked as they would be if he joined them, he would then subject himself to battling the Warriors in the conference finals or earlier. If winning is his No. 1 goal, he is better off continuing to dominate the East and focus on improving his chances of beating the Warriors once he sees them in the Finals.

Still, Paul can dream. And if James does go West, no one in the East will complain.

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Full 2018 NBA Draft preview for Wizards fans, including an interview with Robert Williams

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Full 2018 NBA Draft preview for Wizards fans, including an interview with Robert Williams

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes and Chris Miller talked all things NBA Draft.

They gave their picks for the best options for the Wizards, the safest and riskiest prospects, plus what they expect the team to do. Texas A&M big man Robert Williams also joined the show in a 1-on-1 interview.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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