Free Agents Dwight Howard, Chris Paul Planning Atlanta Rendezvous?

Free Agents Dwight Howard, Chris Paul Planning Atlanta Rendezvous?

JD Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
JD Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Donald was a cottage industry for me in the days I wrote him open letters in the Los Angeles Times, offering to outline some basics… like that taking a meeting with your players to complain about your coach undermines his authority.

RIP, Don Casey.

Happily—at least for my schtick–Donald didn’t get anything I wrote, often telling me, “I didn’t understand what you meant.”

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As I used to note in my full-time employee days, it’s always dangerous when the Clippers reach the point at which Donald has to do something. For the last two seasons—the best in Clipper history—he had nothing harder to do than OK the trade for Paul and extend Blake Griffin.

Not that Del Negro deserves to be fired. It was just set up that way with his contract expiring as Paul’s did, to give CP3 a say on the hire, if he needed one more reason to stay.

Below the level of Donald, it was the Clipper plan for a year, since deciding to bring Vinny back this season, albeit without an extension, as a lame duck on an expiring contract.

Donald likes Vinny but let’s not get crazy. Actually, Donald likes Vinny more than any of his coaches including Mike Dunleay, whom he handed control of the basketball operations—even if Donald forgot to mention it to GM Elgin Baylor.

Unfortunately, after taking the Clippers to the second round, Dunleavy hit Donald up for a four-year $22 million extension. When the team sank like a stone, Dunleavy was raised to war criminal status in Sterling’s eyes. Trapped by his unwillingness to fire Dunleavy and pay him off, Donald settled for barbecuing him publicly, telling the Los Angeles Times’ T.J. Simers: “Do you think anybody loves their coach? They’re just a necessity.”

Dunleavy into a lame duck flambe for two more seasons before he was fired.

Sterling then insisted Dunleavy was never fired–despite a team announcement that he had been–a claim unmasked in arbitration where Donald was forced to come up every last nickel.

Some agents, like Warren LeGarie, who reps Dunleavy—and Hollins–now insist on arbitration clauses in any contract with the Clips.

Vinny is personable and low maintenance. He doesn’t need the boat rocked, or much of anything but the gig.

He could have arrived with “BARGAIN” stamped on his forehead. With Sterling cool to hiring Clipper officials’ candidate, Dwane Casey, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf recommended Vinny. With the money the Bulls owed him, Sterling only had to pay him $1.4 million in his first season.

So it’s not the first time Donald has spiked his peoples’ recommendation, or the second, or….

Unfortunately for Donald, if he’s an irresistible force, Paul is a movable object and it’s a bad time to shake his faith in the organization.

What, Donald worry? He’s reportedly convinced that CP3 can’t turn down the extra $27 million.

I’m also renouncing my statement that there’s no way CP3 can wind up with the Lakers.

Not that I can come up with any scenario. If Dwight leaves, the Lakers will still be over the cap so no signing him as a free agent.

The Clippers won’t trade him to the Lakes, not even for Howard.

I’m going out of the prediction biz for a while. With Donald in the middle, anything can happen.


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  • Jeff in Carlsbad

    Mark, I think Dwight goes to Houston and CP3 stays. Clips need to trade Bledsoe and Jordan for Eric Gordon and Lopez from NO. Trade Butler as an expiring contract with their 1st round pick for Afflalo. Starters: CP3, Gordon, Afflalo, Griffin and Lopez.

  • Freddy K

    dwight is a joke!..dude its a business, stop crying not everyone is going to be your friend …damn watched too much barney!

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  • Guest

    Sign and trade him for some really good pieces. Ride out Kobe and Pau until they retire and start over. Dwight’s mediocre. I don’t think that fool is a franchise player.

  • Terrence

    You want to know where these rumblings are coming from? Those very teams trying to sign them. Nothing new here. Did anyone actually watch Houston play this season? Dwight would be a terrible fit offensively. They actually ran D’Antoni’s system. The only way Asik got points was from Lin pick and rolls and offensive rebounds. Dwight goes there than they would have to make major changes offensively to keep him happy. They’re not a half court team and they run zero post plays. Who do you think McHale would go to, Harden or Dwight? Yeah Harden hands down. Harden’s probably one of the few players this last season that had the ball in his hands more minutes than Kobe.

  • Steve Kauffman

    Mark, arbitration clauses are standard. Think they may be in every single contract we have done. Can’t comprehend how you would sign a contract for a Head Coach, for any team, without including one, certainly if you’re an attorney.

  • L4L

    Kobe made a point of feedin D12 in games!!! Hes still cryin!!!! Harden will be the first option Parsons may end up bein the 2nd option. Houston, Dallas, and Atlanta will be mediocre with or w/o him. They gon beat Okc? Spurs? Grizz? Heat? Pacers? Bulls? Lakers? Puhlease!!!!!!