Blakely: Celts, Paul willing to gamble on CBAMORE: Schedule highlights

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Blakely: Celts, Paul willing to gamble on CBAMORE: Schedule highlights

WALTHAM The Boston Celtics have no problem trading Rajon Rondo to New Orleans for fellow point guard Chris Paul without him agreeing to an extension, well aware that such a trade would come at the risk of giving up one All-Star point guard (Rondo) for another (Paul) who may be out of town in a New York City minute.

However, the gamble that the Celtics would be taking is no different for them than it would be for any other team - even his destination of choice, New York.

In one of the first noticeable changes under the yet-to-be-ratified Collective Bargaining Agreement, the new CBA will make players like Paul more reluctant to do extend-and-trades in the future.

That's why New Jersey's Deron Williams, in a similar situation that Paul is in, has made it clear that he will not be signing an extension with the Nets.

After word came out that Williams was opting out to become a free agent in the summer of 2012, he went to the one place where his voice apparently could be heard loud and clear by the masses - Twitter, of course.

"Don't know why people are tripping just because I'm opting out doesn't mean that I won't resign with the Nets!" Williams wrote. "With the new CBA it makes sense."

Under the new CBA, Williams could have signed an extension that would have made his contract worth about 70 million over four years.

By opting out and becoming a free agent next summer, he can re-sign with the Nets for as many as five years for more than 100 million - a 30 million bump for just one additional year.

So if you're the Celtics, there's no point in worrying initially about him being around for the long haul. Any team Paul gets traded to, will have to deal with him potentially leaving them with nothing to show but whatever production he provided during this shortened 66-game season.

The bigger issue for the Celtics is trying to convince the Hornets to accept a package that'll most likely include Rondo and restricted free agent Jeff Green.

In addition to those players, CBSSports.com reported that the Celtics also offered up two future first-round picks to sweeten the deal.

But as first reported by Yahoo! Sports, the Celtics have serious competition for Paul's services coming from Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Both of those teams have young, established talent that the Hornets are more enamored with than a Rondo-Green package.

Boston counters with the potential for Paul to play with future Hall of Famers Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce which would give Paul a better shot at winning now, than playing with the Clippers or Warriors.

But this isn't about who he'll play with, or their chances of winning big. This comes down to the same thing that led to 149-day lockout money.

Paul wants to maximize his earning potential.

By passing on the security that would come with a contract extension to become a free agent in the summer of 2012, it serves as Paul's best shot at a nine-figure payday.

It's risky, for sure.

But it's no bigger a gamble than the one any team trading for him, would be taking.

Warriors didn't play takeaway; Thunder played giveway

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Warriors didn't play takeaway; Thunder played giveway

The Oklahoma City Thunder choked. I mean, they got a gigantic tumble weed lodged in their larynx.

The better team did not win. However, the Golden State Warriors are actually better than the Thunder in one category:

Identity.

The Warriors know who they are and how they have to win. It never changes. Fire away, baby, and sooner or later the shots will fall . . . especially if the opposition has no clue who they are and how they got the lead in the first place.

I'm not sure if the Warriors are a great team defensively, or if OKC simply couldn't run an offense to extend its leads in Games 6 and 7. The best basketball analyst for my money is Kenny "The Jet" Smith. He accurately pointed out that one ill-advised 3-point attempt by Russell Westbrook in the first half crushed the Thunder’s chance to extend their lead into double digits. The same happened with a bad 3 in the fourth quarter.

The Warriors can kill a rally or get back into a game as soon their 3s fall. That is how they win . . . period. The Thunder tried to play Golden State's game at the worst times. OKC forgot that ball movement, player motion and setting up Kevin Durant for the best shot possible is how to win, not by hoisting panic-ridden 3s from the top of the key. To be fair, in the first half Durant did good job getting others involved. But when the Warriors got on a roll, the OKC offense froze with fear.

It simply amazes me how the Thunder would leave the paint wide open on the offensive end. No cuts, no pick-and-rolls (or not enough of them, anyway). Simply give the ball to Durant and then stand there. Or worse! KD gives the ball to Westbrook or another teammate and then he stands there! My God, give up the ball and move, Kevin! To me it was Durant’s stagnation without the ball that cost Oklahoma City a shot at the title.

Golden State was a very opportunistic team. It was not going to take the game or games from you. But if you wanted to give the Warriors a chance, no matter how slight, they'd accept it. And that’s exactly what OKC did.

Billy Donovan, Westbrook and Durant should feel sick to their stomach. If they don’t, something is wrong with them. My suspicion all three have driven the porcelain bus. Figuratively.

I was rooting for Durant because finally, finally Westbrook was buying into the team concept. But in the end it was Durant who let his team -- and city -- down,