Paul George leads Clippers to Western Conference Finals

Paul George Clippers 2021 playoff victory over Jazz

Paul George has taken a lot of grief for his postseason performances, and many were ready to write off the Clippers once Kawhi Leonard injured his knee. But George had a huge game 5 on the road against the Jazz and then contributed in the game 6 victory as well.

Now the Clippers will be facing the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals, and the Suns have their own issues with Chris Paul being out in game 1 due to Covid restrictions. The Clippers won’t have Leonard as well, so it will fall on Paul George’s shoulders again to step up.

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Chris Paul and Suns sweep the Nuggets

Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns swept the Denver Nuggets behind another spectacular game by Chris Paul. Paul has had a string of playoff disappointments, so it’s nice to see him lead the Suns to the conference finals. But there’s still a way to go, so there’s a lot of overreaction going on.

Naturally, sports media can’t help but get into conversations about the all-time best point guards. Chris Paul is certainly up there, but it’s a pretty tough list to crack with Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, Isaiah Thomas, John Stockton and Steph Curry to deal with. And what about Jason Kidd or Steve Nash?

That said, Paul has an opportunity here to make an epic run at a point in his career when many thought he was finished as an elite player. His ability to slash through a defense and nail mid-range jumpers is very impressive, and he’s leading a group of young players who seem eager to follow. It’s been fun to watch.

Michigan’s Family Ties

Michigan’s Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glen Robinson III will both have to play at a very high level in March in order for the Wolverines to live up to expectation.

Fortunately for them they are both very close to people who have experience playing at a high level. They are both sons of (and named after) former NBA All-Stars.

Tim Hardaway Sr. played college basketball at UTEP before coming to the NBA. Once he reached the professionals he made a name for himself as a scoring guard who could also initiate the offense. He played for a number of NBA teams, most notably the Miami Heat where he developed a strong on-court chemistry with Alonzo Mourning.

But of all the things that Tim Hardaway will be remembered for none will stand above his killer crossover dribble. Some say Hardaway not only had the best crossover in the NBA, but also revolutionized it in a way that made it a mainstream move for guards. Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, Chris Paul, Russell Westrbook; none of them could claim to have a better crossover than Hardaway.

While Hardaway Sr. needed to use the crossover to his advantage to compensate for a lack of height, his son surprisingly grew to be six inches taller than his famous father. Hardaway Jr. grew up playing one-on-one against his dad. His competitive spirit led him to eventually beat him when he was in ninth grade, a sign that he was destined to be one heck of a player.

Hardaway Jr. is averaging nearly 15 points and five rebounds on the season.

Glen Robinson went to Purdue University and eventually made a name for himself in the NBA as a tough-nosed scorer. He was a two-time All-Star and earned himself the nickname “Big Dog.”

His son irked many fans of Robinson’s alma mater, Purdue, by choosing to attend Big 10 rival Michigan. He reinforced those feelings by scoring 12 points and grabbing nine rebounds when Michigan faced off against the Boilermakers.

Robinson III is about the same height as his dad, but some might argue he is an even better athlete. Only a freshman, Robinson has yet to announce whether he will be declaring for the NBA draft. If he chooses to jump ship he will have a chance at being a lottery pick as many scouts like his potential as a defender/rebounder/finisher. He may not generate the type of hype RGIII of the NFL did, but GRIII will be a name that we will likely hear for quite some time.

Both young men will get their chance at expanding on their fathers’ NBA legacy at some point, but right now they are both huge reasons why Michigan should be considered a favorite to win the NCAA Tournament.

Led by the two prodigies and Trey Burke, who ironically was hardly recruited by most Big 10 schools yet might be the team’s best player, the Wolverines will be a tough draw for anyone matched up with them.

Lamar Odom traded to the Mavs

Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzski, right, goes up to block a shot off Los Angeles Lakers’ Lamar Odom in the second half of Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals on May 4, 2011. The Mavericks defeated the Lakers 93-81and lead the best-of-seven playoff series 2-0. UPI/Christine Cotter

The Dallas Mavericks acquired Lamar Odom from the Los Angeles Lakers, which will have ripple effects throughout the NBA as teams try to finalize rosters in this chaotic period following the NBA lockout. Above you see a photo of Odom battling Dirk Nowitzski last year in the NBA playoffs. Instead of working to get revenge for the Lakers, Odom will now be a crucial part of the Dallas effort to return to the NBA finals.

This trade signals the end of the bizarre saga surrounding the Chris Paul trade that was rejected by David Stern. That controversial decision has rocked the NBA, and now we’ll be hearing about it over and over again as New Orleans tries to unload Paul to another team. The Lakers decided to back out of the talks rather than submit a new trade from Chris Paul to the league, and in dealing Odom put an abrupt end to that scenario. Meanwhile, the Lakers now seem to be focusing their attention on acquiring Dwight Howard in a deal that would involve Andrew Bynum.

As for the Mavericks, this trade for Odom became possible when they decided to work a deal with the New York Knicks when it became clear they would be losing center Tyson Chandler to the Knicks. That gave the Mavs an $11 million trade exception which they then used to acquire Odom. Odom made it clear he didn’t want to leave LA, but the powers that be clearly decided to go in another direction.

Dallas has more moves to make as it reworks in roster in the wake of losing Chandler. Chandler was a very important piece of their championship puzzle, but he’s the kind of player that can be replaced. Dallas is now one of the teams that might get a shot at landing Dwight Howard as the Orlando Magic have permitted them along with the Lakers and the New Jersey Nets. There’s also buzz out there that Vince Carter will land in Dallas as well. Carter can still score, but he’s not the kind of player one thinks of to help a championship team. Maybe he’ll be better in a reduced role.

The Dwight Howard sweepstakes will be the next big story that will have ripple effects around the league. We’ll see how serious Dallas is in that contest.

The Chris Paul fiasco gives NBA a black eye

The proposed Chris Paul trade to the Los Angeles Lakers has created a firestorm.

The Hornets, who are owned by the league which acquired it from George Shinn a year ago, realized it was unlikely they would be able to retain Paul with a contract extension or in free agency after he opted out of his contract after this season.

So New Orleans general manager Dell Demps, a respected player personnel man who came from the respected San Antonio Spurs, went to work, hoping to get something for Paul instead of nothing if he left in free agency. Or in Stern’s words, “Getting something more for that player in the event he will leave than if he stays.”

Demps, in his second year as GM of the Hornets, arranged a huge three-team trade with the Lakers and the Houston Rockets: Paul to the Lakers; Los Angeles forward Lamar Odom to the Hornets and Los Angeles forward Pau Gasol to the Rockets, who would have sent forward Luis Scola, guards Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic and a first-round draft pick to New Orleans.

Stern got serious pressure from a number of owners, including Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who fired off a letter to Stern and other owners calling the trade a travesty.

This trade should go to a vote of the 29 owners of the Hornets.

Over the next three seasons this deal would save the Lakers approximately $20 million in salaries and approximately $21 million in luxury taxes. That $21 million goes to non-taxpaying teams and to fund revenue sharing.

I cannot remember ever seeing a trade where a team got by far the best player in the trade and saved over $40 million in the process. And it doesn’t appear that they would give up any draft picks, which might allow to later make a trade for Dwight Howard.

The teams are still talking in an attempt to salvage the deal and they have appealed Stern’s decision.

Meanwhile, Stern and the NBA are being savaged by commentators everywhere. Here’s Bill Simmons and Micheal Wilbon.

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