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Don’t Mess With (the NBA teams in) Texas
With the Spurs sitting in the comfortable position of awaiting their Finals opponent, they have regained their stranglehold once again on the Lone Star state. For years the Texas Triangle was easily the most daunting road trip in the NBA. Facing the Duncan-Parker-Ginobli Spurs, the Yao-McGrady Rockets and the fully-in-his-prime-Dirk in the span of four days was no fun for anybody. A complete changing of the guard in Houston and a talent drop-off in Dallas put the Spurs in control of Texas once again. But after this season, there could be a new talent infusion in Texas as Dwight Howard and Chris Paul could be leaving L.A.
Let’s start with what we know about Howard. He can make the most money if he signs with the Lakers. He has obviously not fully recovered from back surgery yet. And most frustratingly, he changes his mind almost daily. So it is hard to predict what he will do. But we know he is open to becoming a Rocket. Word is that James Harden went to L.A. on a recruiting trip a few weeks ago and Howard recently followed the Beard on Twitter for what it’s worth. Houston is now trying to trade rookie Thomas Robinson to clear cap space for Howard.
Houston has to seem attractive to Howard. The opportunity to play with a legit star in Harden, along with a fun system and solid role players in Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin is getting harder to pass up as the Lakers 2013-2014 season looks bleak right now. In a way, Houston is like a better version of the 2009 Magic team that Howard carried to the Finals. We know that three-point shooters around Howard works as a winning team in this league. And pairing him with Harden may just form a championship contender.
Now, on to Paul. CP3 is reportedly upset that he is being blamed for the Clippers firing Vinny Del Negro after their first round exit. This Clips are treading in dangerous water now. Paul has already turned down one extension with them, so it’s conceivable that he’d turn down another one, even though L.A. can pay him more than any other team. For the pitbull that he is on the court, Paul has a spotless reputation in the NBA. There’s no way he wants to be known as a coach-killer. Chris (and Cliff) Paul may be taking their assists somewhere else next season.
Dallas makes the most sense for Paul. He gets a top five coach in Rick Carlisle, an owner willing to spend in Mark Cuban and a Finals MVP sidekick in Dirk Nowitzki. Doesn’t his compare favorably to an unknown commodity at coach and immature, raw big men in Blake Griffin (who Paul has been at odds with) and DeAndre Jordan? A Paul-Nowitzki Mavs team with cap space would be an attractive free agent destination. And who better than CP3 to make everything gel?
It was a sad L.A. story for Paul and especially Howard. And in order to overtake the Spurs in the West, they may have to join them in the Lone Star state to fulfill their championship aspirations.
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